RIO DE JANEIRO – Bernardo “Bernardinho” Rezende, who was the world’s most successful volleyball coach ever and the winner of six Olympic medals, admitted that he is contemplating running for governor of Rio de Janeiro state and is not afraid to tackle this difficult challenge.
“Somebody has to take charge of this bomb,” said the former coach in an interview published Monday in the daily O Estado of Sao Paulo, and in which he spoke of the immense challenges of being governor of a state that, despite being one of Brazil’s most important, declared bankruptcy last year, is living through an unprecedented wave of violence with thousands of homicides a year, and has many of its leaders in the hot seat for corruption scandals.
Bernardinho has been flirting with politics since last January when he resigned from his post as coach of the Brazilian men’s volleyball selection, with which he won more than 30 championships, twice winning Olympic gold (2004, 2016), twice Olympic silver (2008, 2012) and three world titles (2002, 2006, 2010), as well as eight international league titles.
A future in politics seemed to be closer last Saturday when, at a convention where the New Party launched as its presidential candidate former banker Joao Amoedo, Bernardinho admitted he quite possibly might accept the party’s nomination as its candidate for governor of Rio in next October’s elections.
The New Party, founded in 2015 and which tries to distance itself from Brazil’s traditional parties, considers the ex-coach’s candidacy vital for gaining a nationwide dimension.
The former athlete and coach enjoys great popularity for his success as a trainer both for the men’s selection and for women’s volleyball, with which he won two Olympic bronzes (1996, 2000), three Grand Prix titles (1994, 1996, 1998) and the South American championships of 1995, 1997 and 1999.
Bernardinho, an economist currently dedicated to managing his sports companies and social foundations, originally asked to be given until next April to decide whether he will accept the candidacy, weighing against which are both his professional commitments and his family’s resistance.
“I really have many doubts about taking on a goal that maybe I can’t accomplish. The lack of confidence in politicians is generalized. But with a positive agenda, someone who creates trust can change things,” he said.