By: Gina Middleton
As their family's heritage hails from Portugal, Kim and Lissette's father, Serafim, received an offer for the girls to play for the national team in Portugal. In October 2007 Kim made her debut in Portugal while Lissette's first opportunity came in February 2008. Both Kim and Lissette found it to be an easy transition when they began playing overseas together despite being in a foreign culture. The sisters were not familiar with the Portuguese language and needed to quickly pick up the soccer terms in order to communicate with the team.
"We can speak some what but we understand a lot more of it than we can speak it," said Kim. "We know a lot of the soccer terms we use on the field, and we learned those very quickly. But as far as speaking fluently we don't do so well. But recently I have been studying it a lot and learning a lot more."
The Brandao sisters have made numerous trips between their two homes, traveling from New Jersey to Portugal for training camps and games. The sisters most recently returned from Portugal March 12, 2009 after competing in the Algarve Cup. Despite Portugal's 45th FIFA ranking, the team enjoyed its best performance at the Algrave Cup, winning all three games in its group tying No. 17 Finland.
"The first couple of times I went to Portugal it was difficult because I didn't understand a lot and I couldn't speak a lot," stated Kim. "But now I have been there quite a few times and it just gets easier and easier. I learn more and more every time. And playing on the field is not a problem at all because I know all the words and I play the crucial position that requires me to speak a lot so I had to learn specific words very quickly and I did that."
Kim will carry over the momentum from her Portugal experience to her next endeavor.
Just a few weeks after returning from Portugal Kim signed with the Buffalo Flash of the USL-W-League on March 30, 2009. The season opener for the Flash will be on Sunday, May 24 against the Quebec City Arsenal.
"I am thrilled to be going to Buffalo," said Kim. "It is a full-time professional contract, professional team and a very new franchise. Everything about them, on the field and off the field is professional. And basically my dreams were coming true once I signed that paper. I've always wanted to play professionally in my own country and I've played in Spain and Sweden. It is something I've always wanted to do since I was a little girl."
Kim attributes most of her success to her background at Rutgers.
"It was a huge role in why I went professional afterwards," said Kim. "Glen Crooks and Mike O'Neil were both a great influence in getting me into the type of player that can play professionally. The quality at Rutgers is very good and it was great. My senior year we played really well and had the best record in Rutgers history. It was definitely great soccer. The facilities as well were amazing, Yurcak field is amazing!"
The background that Kim and Lissette have grown up around, from their family's Portuguese heritage, their love for the game and the bond that the girls have together has allowed for their soccer careers to take huge strides forward. As Kim will be playing for the Buffalo Flash, Lissette is continuing her teaching career at Arthur L. Johnson High School as well as maintaining the head coach position for the girl's soccer team in Clark, N.J. Lissette will also be continuing her soccer career this summer playing for the New Jersey Wildcats.
Since playing collegiately together at Rutgers as well as being a part of the Portuguese National Team the Brandao sisters have always been there for each other. After Kim graduated Rutgers, both girls played for the USL-W-Leagues but unfortunately did not reunite on the field until their time in Portugal. Whether helping each other cope with injuries or critiquing one another, the sisters can always count on each other.
"Lisette and I have always been very close, and it was great to play with her again," said Kim. "We always analyze each others games and we are very honest about how each other plays. We tell each other what we could have done better and what we did well."
The Scarlet Knights women's soccer program has steadily produced players who have gone forward in successful careers. Kim and Lissette Brandao are two more names to add to that growing list.