Brazilian forward Oliver Minatel signed with Cavalry FC in January and arrived for training camp in February. The 26-year-old was Cavalry FC’s first international signing.
Minatel has played for such clubs as Nacional, in the Portuguese top division, the Ottawa Fury, then of the North American Soccer League, and, most recently, South Melbourne, of the National Premier Leagues Victoria in Australia.
Minatel recently spoke to Total Soccer Project’s Stuart Gradon about his career, Cavalry FC’s club culture and his career highlights, so far:
How did you end up signing for Cavalry FC?
“I started talking to Tommy (Wheeldon Jr., Cavalry FC head coach) and Martin (Nash, Cavalry FC assistant coach) in late last year,” said Minatel. “I was finishing up my season in Australia, at the time. So, we spoke a lot. The project was very interesting. I was excited. And I really wanted to come over. By the end of the year we had everything sorted. And I’m happy to be here working.”
You’re a forward. But what do you specifically bring to the squad?
“Obviously, if you’re an attacking player you have to be scoring goals and creating chances, right? That’s what we’re there for. I’m more of a mobile forward. So, I can play, basically, any of the three or four positions up front.”
How have you been fitting in with the squad?
“The guys are great. We have a base of players who were here already last year (with Calgary Foothills FC in PDL) and they are great guys, very welcoming. So, it was easy for everyone that arrived. We have a good group of guys coming along together. They’re a very young squad. It’s exciting.”
Cavalry FC manager Tommy Wheeldon Jr. is big on building club culture. Have you noticed that with Cavalry FC?
“I think that’s huge, honestly. Nobody’s going to be on a team where 23 guys are friends. But I think that the most important thing is, when we’re out here, we’re running for one another. And when we’re in a game, we’re accountable to each other.
“Obviously, guys are going to get frustrated. Only 11 can play. But, if you have a good group of guys, good people, things will be smoother. And I think that here, everyone respects each other and is willing to work hard for each other. That’s the main thing for me.”
What challenges have you faced in your career?
“Obviously, I left home very young. I started living on my own since 17. It’s not easy, when you leave your zone of comfort. Especially us, moving around a lot. But, I’m also grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had and the things that I’ve experienced through soccer.
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“I’m happy. That’s the main thing. It’s a short career. It’s little hours in your day but it’s a lot of pressure. And you always have to be performing well. And there are many good players out there. So, you always have to earn your spot.”
What have been your career highlights so far?
“The highest level I played was the first division in Portugal in the (Primeira Liga) and some games in the Europa League qualifying.
“And then I had a very special two years in Ottawa. The first year I had a very interesting year individually. I was top scorer of the team. And in the second year, collectively, we won the fall season and ended second place in the championship. We also had a good group and good environment. I think 2015 was a good year.
“Winning a title is always the maximum you can reach and it’s what keeps players in history. Hopefully we can make some history here too.”