From Brazil to America: The Story of Luana Grabias
Published May 25, 2023
Written By: Tyler Trent / WPSL Correspondent 

Photo By: Devin Prieto 


The West Florida Flames kicked the 2023 WPSL season on May 21 against fellow league newcomer, Seminole Ice which resulted in a 2-2 draw. As a first-year expansion team, the Flames built its roster using a mix of West Florida Flames youth alumnae, regional college players, and a few players outside those categories.

One exciting player that head coach Jamie McGuinness had an eye on and convinced to join the team was Brazilian Luana Grabias. McGuinness decided to reach out to Grabias while constructing the potential roster for this season. 

“When building the roster, I wanted to have a really strong spine of the team,” McGuinness said. “I’ve got a lot of friends that coach in the Sunshine Conference and also lots of former players playing in the league. They all recommended Luana.”

Grabias was born in São Jose dos Pinhais in the state of Parana, Brazil but grew up in Itapoá in the state of Santa Catarina. Grabias’ started discovering her love of soccer at age five though her parents say she has been kicking balls since she could walk - often using her dolls’ heads as makeshift soccer balls.

At age eight, Grabias played in her first tournament where her team won the trophy and she scored four of the five goals in the championship game - a moment Grabias believes outlined what was coming for her parents.

Grabias continued to enjoy her time with soccer and often played with the boys at school until her teachers called for her to return to the classroom. Then, at 12 years old, Grabias tried out for two Brazilian youth teams to continue learning and playing the sport she loved. She was selected for both teams but joined the team closest to home due to her age.

Grabias, who dreamt of studying higher education, continued to grow and improve her game in Brazil before taking her path to the United States in 2019.

Grabias’ first stop in the United States was at Monroe College in New York. In two seasons at Monroe College, Grabias scored 36 goals and added 13 assists in 28 matches.

After great success at Monroe College, Grabias transferred to Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in Florida for the 2022 college season. As a junior at NSU, Grabias started all 16 matches in her first season while scoring 11 goals, including five game-winners, and recording five assists. Grabias was named the Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year. 

Now, coming off her senior season? Grabias joins the West Florida Flames for its inaugural WPSL season in hopes of contributing a significant part to the club’s debut.

“I did research and saw her ability on the ball, her goal-scoring ability, and the love for the game and knew that was someone I really wanted to go after,” McGuinness said. “She is one of my marquee signings.”

With one year of eligibility left at the collegiate level, Luana Grabias has aspirations to take her playing career to the professional level.

“My biggest dream is to play professional soccer in the United States, but with limited spaces for international players in the American Pro Teams, I know how difficult that can be,” Grabias said. “My second option would be to play for a European pro team.

Grabias takes inspiration from players who have already reached the highest playing level of their careers including Debinha and Vinicius Jr. of Brazil, Mbappe of France, and Messi. Her biggest inspiration is, however, Neymar Jr. Though Grabias has not made the jump to the professional level she does share similar playing experiences to those above - playing for their country on the national stage.

Grabias competed with the U-20 Brazilian National Team in 2019 and helped her team win the COMNEBOL tournament - a moment she considers one of the best moments of her young career so far along with being included in  ESPN’s Top 10 her sophomore year at Monroe College.

Grabias is working towards her Sports Management & Recreation degree at NSU and although she plans to continue playing for a long time she wants to stay in sports even after her playing days are over.

Regardless of how the upcoming season with the West Florida Flames goes, Luana Grabias has made a name for herself in soccer by working hard to get to where she is now even if at times she feels she didn’t earn it.

“I am an extremely hard person on myself because for many years I didn’t believe I was a good player and that my talents were from luck, not from hard work and dedication,” Grabias said.

The distance from her family in Brazil is also a significant motivation for her to continue to chase her dreams and work hard.

“I am far from my family and country because of a dream, and if I am not working hard for that dream, it could be a waste of time.”

It’s clear that Luana Grabias isn’t wasting time away from her family and country, she already has made significant accomplishments and this summer with the WPSL is an important step in her path to playing professionally.