Click to view Gabriel Balbinotti’s profile on the OPSM database: https://opsmpro.com/players/gabriel-balbinotti/
Brazil – the birthplace of a superstar in the making. No, not Vincius Jr or Rodyrigo but no other than OPSM finest, Gabriel Balbinotti.
Balbinotti is also the next athlete featured in OPSM’s NextGenSeries, highlighting the best u23 talents within the realms of OPSM!
Gabriel Balbinotti isn’t your average 21 year old.
In fact, Balbinotti is the furthest from an average 21-year old I can possibly imagine.
Born in Brazil, Balbinotti moved to Canada at a young age.
From there, Balbinotti picked up the beautiful game and signed with the Montreal Impact Academy at a young age.
Balbinotti’s youth career was filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
“I started with a very good season and a half,” Balbinotti said, “Then after that, I spent around half a year always getting injured. I would get injured, come back for a week, then get injured again. I got really out of shape for a full year and I had one season where I was just trying to get back in shape.”
Despite these major setbacks, Balbinotti didn’t stop working and it paid off.
“My final season with the academy (Montreal Impact) was my best one. I scored 23 goals in the USSDA,” the Brazilian-Canadian said.
Many people would’ve quit if they were put in Balbinotti’s spot. Constant, recurring injuries, the game you loved becomes further and further away from you.
But that’s not Balbinotti’s mindset.
“It was very hard to keep a positive mindset. But what kept me motivated was that I just love the game.”
While still with the Impact, Balbinotti worked his way up into training with the first team. Then a life-changing opportunity came about.
A professional soccer contract with the Ottawa Fury.
Balbinotti was thrilled to sign his first professional contract, especially at such a young age, but things didn’t seem right.
“It was very hard for me because I didn’t get a lot of playing time. I got discouraged very early.” Balbinotti said.
However, if we know Balbinotti, we know he’s going to bounce back from this.
Whether it may be constant injuries or not being in the right environment, Balbinotti is the one man in the world you can trust to bounce back from this.
And guess what.
After his time with the Fury came to an end, Gabriel Balbinotti went to the University of Quebec- Trois River and became a star there.
At first, Balbinotti had to sit out for a year due to eligibility issues since he had already played professionally.
Instead of sitting out, Balbinotti played semi-pro in the PLSQ League in Canada, making some great friends along the way while also playing high- level and intense soccer.
He led UQTR to a National Title, scoring goals along the way.
“The coach at UQTR helped me so much. He helped me mentally and he wanted the best out of me. I had to lead by example and show how the professionals do it and show the guys what to do.” Balbinotti said.
The leadership Balbinotti had on the team certainly helped, and Balbinotti and UQTR won a National Championship with the OPSM youngster racking up a goal in the final.
“It was my first big trophy and there’s just no feeling like that. The people in the stands, the vibe of the game and to win with a clean sheet in every single game in the tournament shows how much we wanted it as a team. There’s no feeling like it, it was indescribable.” Balbinotti said about winning the National Title.
After winning the National Title, Balbinotti connected with OPSM. “It just felt right. I felt comfortable with OPSM.” Balbinotti said about OPSM.
Currently, the 21-year-old plays with Forge FC in the Canadian Premier League after going 7th overall in the CPL Draft.
Due to the current situation in the world, Balbinotti had to stop training with Forge for the present.
However, his three weeks of training with the club were ‘incredible’ as Balbinotti describes.
A true professional, Balbinotti is humble and hungry. Having a true eye for goal, Gabriel Balbinotti is a name for the future.
Stay tuned for the next OPSM NextGenSeries article to find out who the next youngster on the list will be! Hope you all stay safe and healthy!
WRITTEN BY CHRIS DAILEY