There are two athletes from Algarve, champions of Europe in wheelchair handball

Title was won, in Leiria, after the 20-7 victory against Croatia

Rui Rodrigues and Serghey Mitrofan are athletes from the Algarve team of Sporting/Casa do Povo de Messines/AMAL and this Sunday, December 2nd, were European champions of handball in wheelchairs. In the final, Portugal beat Croatia and achieved an "extraordinary" feat that fills the region "with pride". 

For Rui Rodrigues, this is a “unique” sensation. "I don't even have the words to describe it", he confesses, in conversation with the Sul Informação.

The Algarvian, who is a paraplegic, was crowned European champion right on his debut in a large wheelchair handball competition. «We were forming a small family, with a great spirit of unity and conviviality. I think that was one of the secrets for our victory», he says.

Rui Rodrigues

Against Croatia, in the last game, Portugal, guided by Danilo Ferreira, won by 20-7, in a match played in Leiria. At half-time, the Portuguese mixed team was already winning by 10-2.

“Many of my friends watched the game over the Internet. They gave me a lot of strength and now the congratulations messages follow each other. It's good to feel this support and affection», confesses the athlete.

One of Rui Rodrigues' mainstays in the selection was teammate Serghei Mitrofan, a Slovene living in the Algarve for several years and who also plays for Sporting/Casa do Povo de Messines/AMAL.

“He had already been called up for other Europeans and he gave me a lot of strength. I didn't even count on being selected any more, but I went and gave it my all», reports Rui Rodrigues to our newspaper.

Daniela Faria, coach of Sporting/Casa do Povo de Messines/AMAL, who, in the national team, plays the role of physiotherapist, also followed closely the performance of the two Algarveans.

«It was an experience lived from the outside, but in a very intense way. I experienced everything very closely because I have also helped Rui and Serghey. This was the third year we competed in the European. In 2015 and 2016 we lost in the final, but this year we finally got the win and right at home», he tells the Sul Informação.

This unprecedented title in Portugal (it was the first time that he was crowned European champion in the sport) had, therefore, a strong contribution from the Algarve and from the Casa do Povo of São Bartolomeu de Messines, in particular.

José Carlos Araújo, president of this institution, does not hide his pride in his athletes. “It was great news. We are all very happy, both the people who participate in our project and the community in general», he tells the Sul Informação.

This wheelchair handball project is, for the president of the Casa do Povo de Messines, a «reference in adapted sports in the Algarve», something enhanced also by the «partnership with Sporting that gives us some financial autonomy».

AMAL – Algarve Intermunicipal Community helps with logistical issues, namely transport to matches outside the region.

It is certain that this «sports and social project» has borne fruit, as evidenced by the conquest of the Portuguese Cup in wheelchair handball achieved in the last season of 2017/2018.

The Algarve Handball Association is also one of the partners and João Estrela, president of the organization, received with «great joy» the news of the team's victory in the European Championship.

“We are really happy. It is not enough to talk about integration. It is necessary to put this into practice and this is the objective of this project by Sporting/Casa do Povo de Messines/AMAL. It is a pity that we do not have much support from private entities», he concludes, to the Sul Informação.