Giba: Charismatic motivator on and off the court

Presenting the Secretary of the FIVB Athletes’ Commission and one of the world’s greatest players of all time

Gilberto Amauri Godoy Filho, better known as Giba, was arguably the world’s most successful volleyball player of the 2000s and maybe also in history. As an athlete, he led the Brazilian national team through an amazing golden run during the first decade of the 21st century. But even after retiring as a player, the 44-year-old star who is currently serving as Secretary of the FIVB Athletes’ Commission, continues to be a great leader and motivator off the court.

Born in Londrina, Brazil on 23 December 1976, Giba had to overcome some major health obstacles on the way to becoming an incredible athlete. He was six months old when he was diagnosed with leukemia. At the age of 10, he suffered an accident which seriously damaged his arm.

In his youth years, Giba was named MVP at both the 1993 FIVB U19 World Championship and the 1995 FIVB U21 World Championship. In his very first season with the senior national team, Brazil won gold at the 1995 South American Championship, the first of eight consecutive continental titles for the 1.92m-tall outside hitter.

What followed was an amazing journey of success, which peaked with gold at the Olympic Games Athens 2004 and included silver medals at Beijing 2008 and London 2012. Giba also celebrated three consecutive FIVB World Championship titles in 2002, 2006 and 2010. His two FIVB World Cup gold medals in 2003 and 2007 were accompanied by bronze medals from the 1995 and 2011 editions of the competition, as well as by three FIVB World Grand Champions Cup trophies in 1997, 2005 and 2009. The Brazilian legend left a remarkable trail in the FIVB World League, making it to the podium as many as 12 times, in eight of which he and his teammates triumphed with the gold.

On his way to such a legendary status, Giba picked up multiple individual awards, most notably the MVP honours at the Olympic Games Athens 2004 and the 2006 World Championship.

In his club career, Giba played for teams from Brazil, Italy, Russia, Argentina and UAE, and even after he formally retired in 2014, he came back to the court to help the striving English team of IBB Polonia London in their historic CEV Champions League debut in 2019. In almost each of these countries, Giba earned medals from the main domestic competitions, but his biggest club-level success was the 2009 Champions League bronze he took with Russia’s Iskra Odintsovo.

In 2018, Gilberto Godoy was enshrined in the International Volleyball Hall of Fame.

In 2019, at the age of 42, Giba made another important comeback to the volleyball courts, however this time it was courts covered by snow. In fact, he first got involved with promoting snow volleyball when he appeared as one of the stars taking part in the exhibition game at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. The following year, he actively promoted the emerging sport by joining the Brazilian national team for the inaugural FIVB Snow Volleyball World Tour.

During his years as an athlete, Giba’s charismatic personality always helped motivate his teammates on the court, appealed to millions of volleyball fans all over the world and inspired thousands of kids to dream big in the sport, but he continued to embrace his mission as a role model and a motivator off the court as well. The legendary athlete has been readily participating in various social and humanitarian campaigns - supporting orphans and children suffering from leukemia, fighting prostate, breast and other forms of cancer, preventing competition manipulation and protecting the integrity of sport, etc.

From 2016 to 2020, he served as President of the FIVB Athletes’ Commission. As such, he played a key role in organising the first-ever elections for that position in May of this year. Now he is serving as Secretary of the Commission.

“It is very good that now the athletes’ voice is heard, because they are the ones making the show,” Giba told in a 2019 interview. “The FIVB and the athletes – we are all one family and need to work together.”

Giba was also recently appointed as an Executive Director of the African Volleyball Confederation (CAVB).