She left San Lorenzo to play in Iceland: a soccer player’s adventure between freezing weather, days with 24 hours of sunshine and the illusion of the northern lights

The Uruguayan Federica Silvera arrived in Iceland two months ago to play soccer

Federica Silvera he walks, as usual, with his mate under his arm. He no longer does it through the streets of Montevideo or those of Buenos Aires, now he walks along the icy roads of Port, a small town in southeastern Iceland where less than 3,000 people live. The former player of San Lorenzo He arrived there two months ago with the aim of playing soccer and getting to know a country that is as wonderful as it is intriguing.

“The idea is to live a new experience, learn and grow both sportingly and personally,” Federica tells Infobae via Zoom from the apartment she shares with two of her teammates (one from Serbia and one from Portugal). Through the windows the first rays of sunlight begin to enter a spring that will leave the harsh winter behind.

Federica started playing soccer at a very young age in her native Montevideo. At the age of five he was already kicking the ball in the streets with his friends from the building complex where he lived and at 11 he asked his mother to find him a club. The condition set by the woman was that she choose a place where she could play with other girls and no longer with boys. Thus, he began his training in Tricolor Soccer Club, a group that played in the Rayo Rojo field, which is in front of the legendary Centenario stadium.

The midfielder was born in Uruguay and has played for her national team since 2008 (@federicasilvera)
The midfielder was born in Uruguay and has played for her national team since 2008 (@federicasilvera)

“Having family support was a plus. My mom always allowed me everything and that made things easier for me, even when my grandmother didn’t want her to take me to try out a club. We live in a very prejudiced society and sometimes that makes us limit ourselves. I played with my friends without problems, but when we went to compete with other teams I was ashamed. One of my best friends would get mad and yell at me ‘Come on, play’. Sometimes a mother would pass by, she would stare at me and I felt observed, I was ashamed. That’s why I didn’t play as loosely as I do every day in the neighborhood, ”recalled the soccer player who played in the Juveniles de Colon Football Club and that he made his debut in the Uruguayan first division with the jersey of Phoenix until in 2010 it became National. By then, he had already made his presentation at the selection charrúa and since then he has traveled the Sub 17 and Sub 20 before making the leap to the Major.

Sport was central to Federica’s life, so much so that in the early years of her adolescence she added another activity: the futsal. It was that discipline that allowed him to land with his talent in Argentina. In 2017 he went to play the Liberators cup with Rio Negro City and in that tournament he faced San Lorenzo. A compatriot played in the Cyclone, Sindy Ramirez, who was the one who asked her if she was interested in crossing the pond to join the cast of Boedo. The decision was not easy since at that time he lacked four subjects and a couple of exams to finish the Bachelor of Economics. However, the idea of ​​taking a new step in her career convinced her.

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In San Lorenzo, Federica played soccer 11 and futsal until the coronavirus pandemic forced a brake on competitions. It was at that stop when from a friend received a surprising proposal: to go play soccer in Iceland, a truly exotic destination. The footballer evaluated the offer, but the ups and downs of the world situation made everything stop. The chance was presented again at the beginning of 2021 and this time he did not hesitate: he packed his bags and took on a new challenge, the most important so far.

Federica played soccer 11 and futsal in San Lorenzo between 2017 and 2021 (@SanLorenzo)
Federica played soccer 11 and futsal in San Lorenzo between 2017 and 2021 (@SanLorenzo)

“I was very good in San Lorenzo, but There comes a time when that comfort zone does not allow you to move forward or does not allow you to see where you want to go. Also, I was looking to explore the European market. It was an unusual destination and I doubted it a lot, I was wondering if I was doing well or not, but I decided to take a risk to get to know another culture and women’s football in another part of the world ”, said the 28-year-old midfielder, who landed in Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital , at the beginning of March. After two PCR tests and five days of quarantine in a hotel – in which he could go for a walk, but without entering shops or interacting with other people – he moved to Höfn, where he agreed to his arrival at the UMF Sindri of the second division.

Soccer is played in Iceland only in warm seasons. The freezing temperatures of winter and autumn make it almost impossible to practice the sport, not only because of the discomfort for the protagonists, but also because the freezing of many roads prevents traveling and reaching the different fields. The Women’s Football It has three competitions: a preparatory friendly tournament (this year it was suspended due to the pandemic), the Icelandic Cup in which teams of all categories play, and the league, which will begin at the end of May. With her team, Federica will be part of the second division contest, in which they play everyone against everyone and the first four access the playoffs for the title.

“Here football is very different. There are many colleagues who study in the capital and when I arrived they were not there. We were very few and that caught my attention because I was used to training with a large group. Later, there were two weeks in which, due to COVID-19 protocols, we could train, but without playing football or having contact. So we would work in a group, but each one had her own ball and went through her station alone. That made it a bit difficult for me to adapt. The whole group has only been here for a week and we are beginning to get to know each other, but very little by little, it will take time ”, explained the player, who also takes this experience as one possibility to improve your command of the English language.

The Uruguayan is on loan at the UMF Sindri de Höfn
The Uruguayan is on loan at the UMF Sindri de Höfn

Before leaving, Federica renewed her contract with San Lorenzo until the end of 2022. She will be on loan at UMF Sindri until the end of the Icelandic tournament. As part of the arrangement with your new club, The Uruguayan receives a home that she now shares with a colleague from Serbia and another from Portugal. In his early days in Höfn lived in a house with soccer players from the men’s team from different parts of the world. They all receive a salary as players, but they also have to work for the club: Their tasks can range from removing the posters that surround the playing field to participating in recreational and sports activities with boys and girls from the town. They may also be required to train the children’s or youth categories of the institution.

“We get along pretty well and we are together all the time. We try to distract ourselves, but sometimes it gets a bit boring, especially if the weather is not good. Sometimes you can’t even go out for a walk, so when it’s nice I take the opportunity to go for a walk. Here it gets dark very late, just at nine or ten at night, but in summer they told me it’s almost 24 hours of light and that there is no night. I don’t know how that is going to be ”, she comments in surprise.

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In her first weeks, Federica took the opportunity to go sightseeing. The natural beauties of Iceland amazed her: “We took a six hour drive to a volcano. There we walked a lot and it was exhausting. It was a great experience, but it was very cold. In fact, I took a bottle of water that froze. Then we went to a place that had meltwater waterfalls from volcano Vatnajökull, which is the largest in Europe. Another day we visited a canyon (the Fjaðrárgljúfur, where part of the series was filmed Game of Thrones). They are incredible places to behold, you don’t even imagine that they exist, it is pure nature. Everything gives you peace and tranquility ”. But the Uruguayan hopes to soon be able to appreciate Iceland’s greatest attraction: the northern lights. “I still could not see them, they say that from here you can,” she expressed excitedly.

The footballer was already able to visit some of the many natural beauties of Iceland
The footballer was already able to visit some of the many natural beauties of Iceland

Federica and her teammates are a kind of “stars” in a town that has no more than 3,000 inhabitants (including its surroundings) and an excessively quiet pace of life. When they go down the street in the club uniform, everyone greets them and if they go to buy from a business they ask them when the next game is. The Uruguayan highlighted that in the club the men’s and women’s teams are equally important: there are no differences between them and they have similar working conditions.

In his club, the soccer manager is Uruguayan and the physical trainer is Argentine. It is they who help her not feel so far from home and not be overwhelmed by culture shock. Is that the way of life in Iceland is very different and Federica still has not been able to get used to having dinner at seven in the afternoon. On the other hand, her colleagues do not understand very well why she goes everywhere with the mate and the thermos under her arm. The biggest concern that the one born in Montevideo has today is knowing how she will reach the 5 kilos of yerba with which she traveled to Europe.

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The first test has been passed: the former San Lorenzo officially debuted this Saturday with UMF Sindri in the beaten by 5 to 0 in condition of premises before the Einherji for the Icelandic Cup. Although he did not score goals, he gave a couple of assists and was happy for the good start. As expected, the toughest rival was not their adversaries, but the weather conditions: “It was cold, it was windy and it snowed. I’m not used to that. In March 2019 I played a friendly with the Uruguayan team against France and I thought that was the hardest cold I could feel, but this time it was worse, my legs were hard all the time. But we won and it was a good start ”.

The UMF Sindri court, with a spectacular setting
The UMF Sindri court, with a spectacular setting

Every day, Federica reviews the application in which the club loads the dates, times and venues of each training session. While she seeks to adapt to this new, much more physical and fierce soccer, the Uruguayan also dreams of having more filming with her team (in 2019 they played the four FIFA dates, but the pandemic interrupted that growth) and of having the time to be able to do the thesis that will finally allow her to obtain the title of Bachelor of Economics.

“One of the reasons I took the risk to come was because of the idea of ​​stopping the ball and thinking about what I wanted for myself in the future. Here I have the time and tranquility for that. The maelstrom of competition in San Lorenzo does not give respite and I want to focus on things that I want to improve. The idea is to live a new experience, learn and grow both sportingly and personally. I would never have imagined coming to Iceland: there are many people who are very attracted to this destination, but it had not caught my attention. I had never thought about it, but I already found its magic in it. There are people who write to me and say ‘How fantastic, how impressive’ and I would never have imagined having this experience. I’m enjoying that, ”emphasized the Uruguayan before grabbing her mate again and getting lost in the streets of Höfn, this city in a remote part of the world that is now her home.

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