Brazilian coach living a dream on sidelines with Georgetown Hoyas

Bruno Barandas from Brazil is living the dream of every foreign-born American football coach. He is spending the 2017 football season on the sideline as a coach for a top flight American college team – the Georgetown Hoyas.

As the first Brazilian ever to coach with an NCAA Division I football team, Barandas is still pinching himself.

“This is an opportunity very few ever get, living my dream of living and breathing football 24/7. I am trying to absorb as much as humanly possible to bring it back to Brazil and help football grow there.”

The game has exploded in Brazil over the past 10 years and the top division alone – the BFA – has 30 teams spread across the country. Crowds can range as high as 20,000 in some cities as soccer-crazy Brazil embraces tackle football.

Barandas is working  as a graduate assistant with the offensive line.

Barandas’s path to the coaching staff of the Hoyas was not typical. Who could even imagine taking the leap from the sideline in soccer-crazed Rio de Janeiro to a major division one school?

Enter Clayton Lovett an American coaching in Brazil but who  also helps players and coaches connect with schools in the United States. Lovett and Barandas were both speakers at a coaches/players clinic for the Rio de Janeiro federation and impressed Lovett with his enthusiasm and understanding of the game.

“I had a great deal of respect for Bruno’s head coach with the Patriotas FA, Gabriel Mendes, who is also Brazil’s national team coaach, and Gabriel had nothing but great things to say about Bruno’s attitude, effort, attention to detail and work ethic.”

Lovett is friends with Moe Banks on the staff at Georgetown so once the introduction was made Barandas did the rest.  He sent his resume and a couple of weeks later Georgetown head coach Rob Sgarlata, who had seen Barandas resume, invited him to join the staff as a graduate assistant.

So the 24 year old Barandas, who started playing football at the age of 15 in Brazil and had seen his playing career end with injuries to both knees, finds himself coaching football players at a major American university not much younger than himself.

“I was out of football entirely for a year but was convinced to join the Patriotas developmental team as a coach. That was the best decision I have ever made.”

Within a week he was promoted to quarterbacks coach for one of the top club teams in Brazil, the Vasco da Gama Patriotas, working alongside quarterback Lucas Shaw and helping to develop Brazilian quarterback Daniel Gazelle into arguably the best quarterback in the country. Following two seasons and with a national championship and runner up trophy in hand, Barandas was promoted to offensive coordinator. With Gazelle as his quarterback, he was the architect of one of the most prolific passing offenses in Brazil reaching the playoffs again. That’s what brought about his invitation to speak at the clinic.

“I was fortunate to have had Clayton Lovett in the audience who liked the presentation.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

“I am still pinching myself. Ever since I got here it has been a dream. Coach Sgarlata (HC) and Coach Neuberger (OC) are amazing leaders, and it’s been a blessing working under their leadership. All the guys in the offensive staff are great, and welcomed me in the best way possible. I’m working with the offensive linemen, under Coach Kolt, who’s been teaching me a lot, and helping me all along the journey.”

Bruno Barandas as OC of Vasco da Gama Patriotas iin Brazil

However, he is not only learning according to him.

“I am also able to teach the players and be accepted as a real part of the offensive coaching staff, giving input about the plays, and what we should or shouldn’t run this season. Overall it’s being a great opportunity to live the dream of breathing football 24/7, It’s an honor to be the first Brazilian to ever coach in NCAA’s division 1, and I’ll sure absorb as much as is humanly possible and bring it back to Brazil, and help football to grow in there.”

Barandas will return to Brazil in January 2018 filled with new knowledge he hopes he can apply and pass on to help continue to grow the game in Brazil.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.