"I'm happy with the individual award but actually much more important than that is the title for Brazil. Beating Argentina is always very good, but even more so in a final. It was a very important title for this group. We had a good championship. We played well and managed to achieve the result we all wanted. But now it’s important to look towards our next goal: the World Championship,” said Souza.
The target is gold. Brazil are the defending champions and the current careers of the top players from the inaugural FIVB Men’s U23 World Championship two years ago show just what might lie ahead for Souza.
Two years ago, Brazil's Ricardo Lucarelli and Aleksandar Atanasijevic went head to head in the final. The host nation retained the upper hand over Serbia with a 3-2 victory in Uberlandia, Brazil. However, it was Serbia captain Atanasijevic who was the outstanding scorer in the final, picking up 25 points.
Nowadays, Atanasijevic and Lucarelli are two of the biggest stars in the volleyball world. Both were recently involved in the final of the FIVB Volleyball World League in Rio de Janeiro and Atanasijevic was greeted by standing ovations from the Brazilian fans.
Souza will hope his career can take a similarly successful path.
“Douglas is undoubtedly hugely talented. However, he must obviously continue to work hard,” said coach Rezende, who is convinced the tall, powerful young man, who stands at 1.99m, has huge potential. This is why he selected him for the World League in a team littered with global stars, as well as for the Pan American Games.
“It is extremely important to have this contact with athletes from the main squad, because they are very experienced and have been through situations that we will still encounter. I try to absorb as much information as possible from them so that I can get through this stage of initiation and into the main squad more easily,” said Souza.
It may be that a dream comes true for the young man if he is selected to play for the home team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. That would fit perfectly with his approach to life: “Not be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams!”
After appearances for junior teams, Souza has made the transition to the men’s game unusually quickly, thanks to an abundance of talent and hard work. He attacks hard, but is also very clever tactically for a man his age.
2014 was an extremely successful year for Souza. He won the South American Championships with the Brazilian U23 team, and was named the MVP in the Brazilian league with his club SESI-SP. That was another individual prize he took in his stride: “As an athlete, you always have to continue to develop. That way, your dreams can come true.”