As we anticipate the return of football activities in Nigeria, VFC's Brazilian head coach Rafael Everton chats a bit about life under lockdown in his native country, what his impression about the club, Nigerian football, and more.
Hello Coach, how are you doing, how is Brazil and how are you coping with the coronavirus?
I am fine by God's grace. The situation here in Brazil is not easy, because we have so many cases of coronavirus. Yesterday we had over 2,000 deaths but very soon, I hope we will have good news for this situation.
How about your players, are you in contact with them during this lockdown?
Yeah, I have spoken with the players, we meet every day in our WhatsApp group, I give them what to do and in return, they will send training pictures and videos to me. We know it is difficult, but we must try to keep fit ahead of a possible resumption of the league.
Is there any special training for them during this lockdown?
Yes, we do gym training and aerobic programmes. It is difficult for the players to go out, but we make sure they are active at home, running every day and also go to a gym.
Aside from training, how are the players coping mentally and welfare-wise, without football?
You know it is a difficult period for everyone, no one saw this period coming, but we keep looking forward, planning ahead of the future and getting prepared for a possible resumption. I am keeping close contact with my coaching crew, always discussing what we will do when the season restarts. I spoke with my assistants and other staff and they are keeping the players fit.
While we are waiting for football to resume in Nigeria and across the world, VFC is engaging the fans online, what do you think about the website expansion and other online activities by the club?
It is fantastic, I've not seen such online influence in Nigerian football, the new website, Facebook page, Twitter handle, and other social media platforms, it will help to promote the team abroad. My friends in Brazil says it is fantastic, that I have never work with a club like this in Nigeria and they congratulate me.
So you mean people in Brazil are following VFC and we might soon see them wearing VFC jerseys?
Sure, so many friends here in Brazil ask me about the club, and many other things, we have President Club fans who said to me that the club is great and ask if I can send players from Nigeria to play here in Brazil. Also, we have a partnership with the club, my friends and brothers follow the club on Facebook and it's so lovely.
So tell us, why really did you accept to coach VFC?
When I spoke with the President, the vision of the club was so overwhelming. This is the kind of vision I've always wanted to work within Nigeria but did not have the opportunity, so after the conversation with the Chairman, I told myself, I can't stay out of this project. In our job, what we say is different from what we do, but when I saw what VFC had on the ground, I loved it more, it was fantastic from the beginning. I love the club, the environment, the vision, it is very different from other clubs I worked within Nigeria, I will not talk about other clubs, but the experience here is very different. Now, it is not just about the work, it is about what we share as members of a club, we are now a family and I hope we continue with this trend.
What is your relationship with Alberico Da Silva, everywhere you go, he goes, what is the story?
We have worked together for a long time. In football, many coaches have players they trust, the clubs I work in Nigeria, Alberico works with me, its about trust, hard work, and confidence. Alberico and I grew up together, when I used to play football, he was always my opponent. When I left Brazil for Nigeria, I brought him with me, he did very well and understands the Nigerian football, that is why I go with him to all the clubs have been with. He is a natural left-footer and a great number 10, we have great players in Nigeria but there are not many special talents to play the attacking midfield role. I have a philosophy, Alberico understands my philosophy, we have a relationship like brothers, on the pitch he will do a good job for me and help the team. I have confidence in him because I know he is a very good player.
Very interesting. We hope you can find Nigerian players you trust like Alberico. Now, let's talk about your career, many people don't know if you played football before, when you started coaching and what your coaching ambition is?
I played professional football for seven years and had a very serious injury, when I had the injury, I started thinking about what I will do if I cannot play football again. The club I played for made me a proposal to become a coach with the team, I thought about it and accepted the proposal, I got my badge as a coach and started coaching in Brazil. To become a coach was not difficult for me because I come from a football family, all my life is inside football, my grandfather and father were footballers.
When I started working as a coach, I did very well in Brazil, I decided to come to Nigeria and the first year I won a trophy (Federation Cup with FC Ifeanyi Ubah), we finished in a respectable position in the league. I have plans in my career, I work for it, I keep pushing myself by attending different coaching courses which will help my life and career. I have a dream of working for big clubs in Europe later in my coaching career. But my target now is Vandrezzer FC, to make the team great and become the biggest team in Nigeria and Africa.
What do you think about Nigerian football, coaches, management, players, and facilities?
From 2016 when I first arrived in Nigeria, the league is growing, if you look back four years ago, so many things have changed. There are good players, coaches, and very good teams, privatization is key. The country seriously needs to sign a television deal and have the league on TV, that is very important, if league matches are shown live on TV, so many things will change for good.
We are certainly looking forward to that, and we wish the coming of VFC will change things in the Nigerian League for better. Thank you, coach, we hope to see you back in Nigeria soon.
Thank you, I really appreciate this time with you. It is very important for all of us to stay together and I hope to stay for many years, Nigeria is my second home.