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"A matter of skin and heart".

In the next few paragraphs, I would like to share a piece of my life story. Some aspects of my life that not many people know but those things formed me as a person, the kind of adventurous and entrepreneurial woman that does not stop dreaming. What is the origin of my love for travel, my desire to discover new things, and try to learn new languages. Some dreams were shattered along the way, but the new ones arose from my way of living, and my way of wanting something more out of life. That is, maybe, the part of Keilley, that I would like to share with you now.

My mother was the source of my love for traveling! My parents split up when I was about two years old and I don't have any real memories of my father, maybe only that he traveled for work often, and one day, well, he simply didn't return. He worked as a promoter/producer of forro band, a type of music well known in the northern part of Brazil. He worked with big names in the industry at that time, and he became a well-known producer.

My mother was a gospel singer in Bahia. Part of her job was to visit churches in different cities and towns, located in my native Bahia. We started to move around when I was about three years old and we visited many churches.

My older sister also took on singing gospel and I took the opportunity to preach. I like to talk about God with people already at that young age. I remember many occasions when I could talk with someone about God, and their eyes would get misty, maybe because my words were coming from my heart, and were not poluted by adult thinking. So we kept on traveling, meeting more people and getting to know more places.

My mother was always on lookout for a better job, better conditions for her three kids (yes, I have a younger brother as well), and to allow them to get the best education possible.

That's how I got to know almost all of Brazil. We left my native Paulo Alfonso in Bahia, and traveled around until we settled In Florionopolis, located in south of Brazil. In that city, I fell in love with the game of volleyball, But before then, I was dreaming of becoming a model, just like my older sister, but I soon realized that this dream was not supported by my body.

Modeling was around me, since my sister worked in the industry and won several beauty contests in Brazil, and it affected me in my early years.

I wanted to follow her footsteps, learn how to walk, dress, and all the other things.

My body wasn't built to walk on catwalks, and my large breasts were not taken as a great asset in the industry.

My development started early, as soon as when I was ten years old, my chest started to form and didn't stop growing until I was well in high school. It is not easy for a teenage girl to have her dreams crushed because of her big breasts. It was not only about modeling. Children at school often teased me about it, giving me a hard time, for something that I should be proud of from the very beginning. But at that time, it felt a little bit more as a curse, since it made my dreams impossible.

Around that time, volleyball came to my life, and made me forget about the modeling. Something that served me as an escape, soon became my love.

I put all my energy into becoming as good of a player as I could have possibly be. I felt the passion for the game, and my rapid growth only kept on motivating me more. Soon enough, I could also see pleasant results on my body, which was a great "side effect" of practicing hard every day.

Playing volleyball completely changed my perspective on life and by the age of 14, I ended up totally falling in love with the sport. Soon enough, my younger brother would join me, and we practiced together quite often. The routine of practicing and everything that was around it, made me feel great, and my taste of exercising was cultivated in me since that age. I started to play volleyball professionally, taking the sport more seriously. I went to Curitiba to get to another level. In that city were one of the best teams in the country, more opportunities to develop and get exposure. I did many tryouts and my experience grew rapidly. I got to meet many different types of managers, coaches, and when I look back now, it really prepared me well for the future.

Some time later, I went from indoor volleyball to beach volleyball. It was a new experience, and also a new opportunity for me to travel. Even to the foreign countries.

The emotion was immense. I couldn't believe that something that I loved so much could open more doors from me.

When an opportunity to play in Europe professionally came by, I didn't hesitate. When I crossed the Atlantic, and I landed in the Charles de Gaul airport in Paris, I felt an urge of thought, maybe a feeling, that I would never return to Brazil. That Europe would be my new home. It is a sensation hard to explain, and in my native language (Portuguese), we call it "a matter of skin and heart".

I was enchanted with the old continent.

Every country, every city that I have lived in or visited, made me feel awesome and I never felt like leaving this place.

Spain would become my headquarters, since I learned the language quite easily, and it was not hard to fall in love with the climate and the local gastronomy. Looking back, all of this happened because of my passion for volleyball, and I am eternally grateful for it. It shaped me into a person that I am today!!

By Keilley Lee Marques

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