Volleyball and the tale of two countries

Patricia Niengue at the St. James gym showing off her volleyball skills. Photo: Preeteesh Peetabh Singh/The Dialog

Patricia Niengue at the St. James gym showing off her volleyball skills. Photo: Preeteesh Peetabh Singh/The Dialog

When she came to Canada from Portugal last year for a two-week family visit, she never thought that this will be the country she would like to settle in.

Back again, now as a student at George Brown College (GBC) taking ESL, Patricia Niengue, 18, wants to make a career in business management.

She also plays volleyball for GBC’s varsity team.

Niengue used to play volleyball in high school which she thought was not so competitive. So, she started playing for clubs in Portugal and that is how she improved her game. She won the revelation prize in her first year and went on to become the MVP next year.

“When I came to know about the volleyball tryout in George Brown, I became excited. I had to go,” said Niengue. “Our team is a very good one. We have many individual talents; we just have to find out the right combination together to make it the best team in the competition.”

It’s just her third month since Niengue landed in Toronto, she misses her family back home especially her three year old brother Miguel. She lived with her mother, aunt and two brothers in Portugal. Niengue’s father went to Angola three years ago. “We only get to meet during Easter or Christmas holidays. But we are used to it,” said Niengue.

“I do miss home but I try not to think about that. It can distract me from the goal for which I am here,” said Niengue.

Playing as a power hitter and a starter for the Huskies, she is having a great varsity season. As a rookie, she has been consistently performing well for the team, recording team highs of nine kills, four digs against Canadore and five kills against Trent.

“She is always willing to learn and has lot of potential. Other than that she is a really cool girl to talk to or get along with,” said Niengue’s teammate Anise El Haddad.

GBC currently stands in the seventh position of the OCAA east division rankings with two wins and three losses.

“I used to be very shy. I had an odd personality, and nobody understood me,” said Niengue. She thanks her aunt Isabel for changing her perception towards life by supporting her and giving her good advice. “Making friends and playing volleyball wouldn’t have been possible without her.”

It’s also something about the country that attracts Niengue. “Since I came here, I never felt out of place. Canada is a great country and I feel so lucky to be living here,” said Niengue. “I want to grab this opportunity and enjoy this moment. My family is proud of myself and so am I.”

Apart from volleyball, Niengue like to read adventure stories; listen to pop, rap, African and Brazilian music; stay home with family; party with friends; watch movies, comedy shows and soap operas.

Niengue adds, “In Portugal we have a tradition to see soap operas. I am addicted to it!”

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Volleyball and the tale of two countries