When last we heard from Oliver Minatel here at CanPL.ca, he had just embarked on his journey of rehabilitation after fracturing his tibia and fibula in a CPL match at the Island Games. Now, exactly six months later (eight months to the day since his injury), the end of that journey is in sight. Cavalry FC announced in late April that they'd signed Minatel to a new contract for 2021, and he's now back on the pitch in Calgary with his teammates – both old and new. "I'm really happy to be back," Minatel told CanPL.ca this week. "Feeling good, and I'll hopefully be available for our first game whenever that is." The Brazilian attacker explained that the recovery process was difficult. One frustrating aspect of a fracture, as opposed to a long-term muscular or ligament injury, is that much of the process is just waiting for the bone to heal. "I think the hardest part is to come back 100 per cent and do everything," he said. "Once I hit the field it was a long process in the beginning; at first it would hurt, and the body was getting used to everything that happened. We're being very careful and working a lot on strength as well to avoid muscle injuries... "The first step was the surgery, which was huge, and fortunately it was very well done. After that what you really need is time for the bone to heal, and the rod that's in there to consolidate in the bone. It hurts with impact, but the more impact you get earlier on the better because it stimulates the healing. Now I hardly feel pain so it's good, and it shows that I had a good full recovery. It's a bit more simple than a ligament or a muscle injury because you basically just have to wait for the bone to glue."
RELATED READING: Cavalry FC’s Daan Klomp reflects on pro debut vs. Ajax: 'When the match starts, you don’t feel any pressure'
At last, Minatel is back. He revealed that he is participating in Cavalry's training pretty much normally, although he's still easing his way back in, and supplementing work on the pitch with extra programs in the gym. All is well now for Minatel, although that was never a sure thing. Even during the 2020 season, he'd been in talks with the club for a new contract, but the mid-season incident certainly threw a wrench into that. "The injury was hard and it created doubts in everyone," Minatel admitted. "I won't lie, obviously I was scared, the club was scared; we didn't know how it would be, if I was gonna recover fully, or whatever, so we kind of took it a bit day by day and waited until I got to a stage where I proved that I was fully fit. After that, both sides wanted the deal to be done, so that made things easier." Of course, the Cavalry FC that Minatel has returned to isn't quite the Cavalry he last knew in the 2020 season. Eight new players have joined the squad so far, coming in place of the 11 that have departed. Minatel is sure to still be a key part of the Cavs' attack this year – he's been one of the club's most productive players over two years, with eight goals and two assists. He joins a revamped group around him, though; Ahinga Selemani, Richard Luca, and Anthony Novak are all now in the mix, with a healthy Sergio Camargo and a returning José Escalante to boot. Overall, Minatel thinks the new-look squad is in good shape. "The ownership, everyone in the club, we all want to win," he said. "We got close two times now, and we need to find ways to reach our goal which is winning the championship. This year we went through a bigger amount of changes in the off-season, so we're just getting to know each other now in training. We still have some guys to come in." Above all, though, he – like the rest of us – is just desperate for games to return. "It's been a long off-season, and it's very difficult for professional athletes to compete so little in the last two years," Minatel said. "Everyone has to be careful and work hard, and try to keep well mentally to be ready when the season kicks off."