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Camila looks to take advantage of surprise World Cup chance with Brazil

Camila was unsure she’d get called up to represent Brazil at the Women’s World Cup. Now that she’s made the cut, the versatile athlete is eager to show what she can do on the international stage.

Camila celebrates after scoring during a 2017 regular season match between the Orlando Pride and the North Carolina Courage at Orlando City Stadium. (Credit: Jeremy Reper/ ISI Photos)

Camila didn’t get much sleep the night before Brazil was set to announce its roster for the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

She didn’t know if she’d get a chance to represent her country in France. Camila, who has made 10 appearances for Brazil’s women’s national team, wasn’t included on Brazil’s last two rosters and, heading into the Cup announcement, wasn’t getting the playing time she wanted with the Orlando Pride.

When the roster was announce and Camila knew for sure she was part of the 23-player roster, there was some shock.

“I felt good,” Camila told Pro Soccer USA through a translator. “Kind of relieved.”

The relief was in realizing the dream she had since she left home at 13 years old was finally coming true.

“It’s not only my dream to be in the World Cup, but also my family’s, my friends’ and everyone that helped me up to this point,” said Camila, 24. “I just have to work hard to be there, to keep that position and keep being called up for the national team and not have to go through this anxiety of not knowing if I’m going to go or not. I just need to work hard.”

Camila, a defender for Brazil but an attacking player for the Pride, said she’s not blaming her struggles and uncertainty on her 2017 knee injury. She tore her ACL and sprained her MCL in her right knee during the Pride’s final match of the 2017 regular season and didn’t return to playing until July 2018. She had four goals and five assists for the Pride in 2017.

“I feel like the injury got to me when I was doing my best,” she said. “Both here in Orlando in 2017 and in Brazil. I felt like I was in great shape and doing my best, but I can’t put the blame on the injury. I got back from the injury, I played five, six games for Orlando and then I went back to Brazil and played a couple of games.

“I just need to get this opportunity and just make the best of it.”

Pride head coach Marc Skinner said he’s seen flashes of the player could be for the Orlando Pride. He said he was somewhat shocked to lose Camila to the World Cup, but the shock had nothing to do with the latter’s abilities on the pitch.

Camila played in six matches (one start) for the Pride before leaving for the World Cup. 

“I think she’s still overcoming – or has been overcoming – some psychological issues regarding the injury because it was a big injury and she’d never had one like that,” Skinner said. “So, I think it’s how far she thinks she can push herself. Now I’m hoping that the World Cup call-up not only gives her the opportunity to show it at the highest level on the world stage, but also it awakens her again.”

At the end of April, Camila was working before training with former Sky Blue player Katy Freels and Pride forward Danica Evans. Skinner said Evans and Camila were working on extra fitness at the time.

“There is no doubt from the footage that I’ve seen previously and glimpses in training that she has phenomenal talent,” Skinner said. “But the old adage that hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard – that’s what we need her to do. That’s why she hasn’t seen as minutes as she possibly could with us so far.

“If she does that right, then she has the ability to play however many minutes she wants to, but she’s got to run. That’s what I hope she does in the World Cup. I hope it’s the awakening she needs because if she comes back with the right mentality to be part [of] and push for Orlando, she’ll be a wonderful player.”

Camila said she’s relied on teammate and Brazilian legend Marta while trying to regain her form. Former teammate Monica, who left the Pride for Brazilian side Sport Club Corinthians Paulista, and Tais Cotta, the Pride’s translator for Brazilian players, were other sources of help.

“Not like pressure, but just telling me every day that I can do it and what I can reach and what I should have been doing,” Camila said. “Just giving me motivation and everything to get to this point.”

The World Cup represents the best chance to improve. Camila said she’s looking forward to being tested by the best players in the world while she’s in France because then she’ll be better for her club team when she returns.

Brazil opens its World Cup at 9:30 a.m. on June 9 against Jamaica in Group C. The other two teams in Group C are Italy and Australia. 

“I think that getting the World Cup just shows everything I’ve done as a player,” Camila said. “Not what is happening now, but everything I went through. A lot of people, a lot of players just stop in the middle of the process. They just think they can’t do it when anything’s an obstacle or anything’s a challenge, they just stop. 

“It just shows everything I got over during this whole time.”

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