Gabriel de Castro Morais is a freelance copywriter from Brazil who wants to show people back home that there is another reality in countries like Australia, where girls and women can freely play football.
The Brazilian National Women’s Football Team have long been fighting to leave the shadow of the men’s team, until recently. The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup is the first tournament where the team has had their own jerseys (previously they had to wear the men’s leftovers), and the first time Brazilians can watch and support the team on free to air TV (previously they had to pay).
“I realised how special this World Cup would be for them, but I also realised that despite some of the positive changes, they still didn’t have their own mascot. The men’s team have an angry looking canary, but it doesn’t represent the women’s team, so I came up with one for them myself to honour our women’s team and encourage more people to support them.”
Within only 4-5 weeks, Gabriel had created the mascot and was on a flight to Australia for the tournament. He found a woman in Adelaide in a Brazilian Facebook group who was keen to wear it, and she loved the experience so much that she has travelled with him to Brisbane, Melbourne and now Sydney. This mascot is called ‘Canarinha Guerreira’ which translates to ‘Little Canary Warrior’.
“We are not just here to support the Brazilian team, but also women’s football in general. I want to inspire people back home and show them that it is normal for a girl to play football, because this mindset doesn’t exist in Brazil.”
Gabriel and Canarinha visited Forest Killarney’s U11 Girls recently to share their story and meet the team. Coach Nina Sallenave, who is also a Coach Mentor with MWFA, can very much relate, having also grown up in Brazil.
“Having the mascot come to our training was so much fun! The girls were proudly wearing their yellow and green shirts, sharing the same passion for the sport.”
Canarinha had a great time having a kick with the team, even trying to replicate Cortnee Vine’s match winning penalty!
“They were amazed by the way we have soccer available to everyone here. If only we had that in Brazil. Women’s sport is growing so much. There is still a long way to go, but the movement has started, and it brings us so much joy to be a part of it. This World Cup just brought us all together. We need to keep inspiring girls to find their spark and to believe that anything is possible.”
MWFA Coach Development Manager Eugene Lawrenz, who has been helping the pair during their time in Sydney, said that supporting projects such as this one is important for the bigger picture.
“We can all clearly see what this tournament has done to inspire young girls and unite everyone in supporting women’s football in this country. What Gabriel is doing is an important reminder that sport can also bring about change in society, across the world, and I encourage everyone to also get behind him and his project.”