There's no question about it - Brazilian outside hitter Douglas Souza has become the most popular face in volleyball in the first few days of the Tokyo Olympics.
Just be yourself - Douglas
Hilarious and authentic social media content takes the Brazilian past two million followers on Instagram in five days
Published 07:49, 25 Jul 2021
A Rio 2016 Olympic champion, the 25-year-old Douglas has earned a legion of new fans during the first portion of his time in Tokyo with the number of followers on his Instagram account skyrocketing from around 260,000 on Tuesday to 2.2 million on Saturday, making him the most popular volleyball player on the platform, ahead of Iranian star setter Saeid Marouf.
“I was shocked at the beginning,” he said. “It was very weird for me to see all those people following me out of nowhere. Now that the tournament has started, I’m switching my focus a little bit and concentrating more on the court, which is what brought me to Tokyo.”
Douglas gained notoriety on his social media account for his humourous behind-the-scenes videos in which he shares his daily routine with his Brazil national team teammates at the Tokyo Olympic Village and at the Ariake Arena.
His hilarious interactions with roommate and fellow outside hitter Mauricio Borges, who he has nicknamed ‘Jorges’, have also generated a lot of engagement and positive reactions from fans.
But above everything, what makes of Douglas a social medial phenomenon is the authenticity that abounds in each of his posts and interactions.
“The only message I can send to the people who follow me and like what I do is ‘just be yourself’”, he said. “Everything is fine, don’t be afraid to be who you are and just keep acting the way you feel like acting.”
Douglas helped Brazil win the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Nations League a month ago, and is also drawing attention on the court. He came off the bench to score ten points in Brazil’s three-set opening-match victory against Tunisia on Saturday.
“Everything that’s happening with me on social media is really cool, but I leave it outside the court,” he said after the first match. “I am here to do my job, just like the rest of the team. I was glad I could help today and I’ll always be there ready to do it again, when the team needs me.”
Brazil head coach Renan dal Zotto, one of the most popular volleyball players in the pre-social media days, is aware of his player’s success and proud of him.
“This is just who he is, a very genuine and spontaneous guy,” Renan explained. “And people like it, that’s why they follow him. My entire family is following Douglas and they’re having a lot of fun. And the best part is that he’s been able to separate things really well and this isn’t impacting his performance at all. That makes all of us really happy and proud of him, because he deserves this recognition.”