Dear readers! / Ciao a tutti!
It’s incredible… The football book has travelled round about 7,100 km (4,432 miles) and crossed the North Atlantic Ocean. It has been passed on from Madi Pry to Talia DellaPeruta, who took it from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to Milan, Italy.
Talia took time to briefly share how she got into football and what was one of her most special and memorable experiences in soccer….
What I would like to point out here with great respect: I was very impressed that Talia gave me the interview just a few hours before she and her team played the CONCACAF Women’s U20 Championship final (which – by the way – was won by her converted penalty kick – ultimately 2-0 against Mexico). I don’t think that’s a given. Nevertheless, she took her time. At this point, once again Congrats – even though the match was a while ago at the time of the interview’s publication – to the title to Talia and her team! And to everyone who reads along here: I hope you enjoy reading and following the book’s journey!
P.S.: Please note that the interview reflects the status as of 12.3. Thank you.
Hi Talia, first of all, thanks a lot for taking time for the interview before your final match.
Thank you, yeah, we are super excited.
Let’s start directly… What did Madi tell you to write inside the book or why did you decide to take part in our project?
Yes, she told me that this book has been passed around to different people in different countries and I just think that’s supercool and I want to be a part of it because I think that soccer is a universal language and if you don’t speak the same language, then we can all relate to how much we love the game. So I think it’s like a really, really cool idea and I wanna be a part of it. I am excited to continue read other stories in the book and also add my own experience and what the game has given me. I just think it’s a really cool idea that you came up with to include a lot of people stories from all over the world about how the game affected them or what they love about it.
Could you tell something very shortly about yourself, please? How did you come to soccer, why do you like it?
I started playing soccer when I was three years old. My dad got me into it, and that’s something that him and I did together. So I enjoyed spending time with him and he would train me in the backyard since I was three years old. I just loved it. I picked-up really quickly. I am super competitive and I like to compete and work hard and I love the technical side of the game so I practiced that much.
I play for the University of North Carolina. I am a sophomore and I am also a part of the Under 20Women’s Youth National Team for USA. So, we are qualifying right now with that team.
So, you play for Chapel Hill, right? And now you do a semester abroad in Italy or how does it work? Madi Pry wrote me about this…
Yeah, my assistant coach is a really good friend with the Head Coach of AC Milan’s team. So talked to and she was like: ‘Hey, I have two players who are interested to play overseas and go to the college there. Would you mind? I could send them to you for a semester while they study…’ So, I studied in Milan at the University of Catalonia and played for Milan’s first team.
That’s great. Which experiences did you make internationally? You said that you play at the U20 Women’s tournament at the moment which takes place in Santo Domingo. Can you tell a bit about the last days? Did you make some friendships with players from other teams, nations? Also in the last years maybe?
Yes, I have actually been a part of the U14, U15, U17 and U20 National Team. Throughout the past five years, I have been on the National Team and I travelled to over 10, 15 countries with the National Team and so I have definitely made a lot of friends on other teams in different countries. I have some friends on Haiti, in Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico.
Did you already write something in the book? Or do you just think about what you could write?
I have been trying to think about what I have been trying to write because I have so many stories willing to tell and like how much soccer has impacted me and so many people. But I think I write about the different countries I have been to, the different cultures I have seen, how soccer brings us all together and how we all love it. And I think I talk a little bit about this experience right now with the U20 team depending on how today it goes. It’s been an overall really, really good tournament for me.
Then a very different question. You know that Megan Rapinoe and her teammates, they reached the equal payment and they fought so much for it. When you could change something concerning Women’s Soccer, international or in the US, what would this be?
I would say definitely more funding for the Women’s Game and so maybe some more professional teams in the US. They have started to create a couple more WNSL teams which is the pro league in America for Women. But I think more teams in the big cities would help to develop younger girls to eventually play on those professional level.
Do you know in which field you want to work later on? It’s quite early to be honest but do you want to stay in soccer after your career? What do you think at the moment?
I mean, it has always been a goal of mine to play professionally, and to be a part of the US Women’s National Team. So I play soccer for a lot longer. I would definitely like to play soccer overseas as well so I am super excited about this added-on experience, to play in Italy. And I have also kicked in Germany for a couple of weeks. I definitely want to keep with the National Teams to the first Team in.
Can you imagine to become a Coach later on?
I think years before Heather O’Reilly, I would have said ‘no’ when I was younger. But right now definitely wanna be maybe an Assistant Coach or Head Coach at College. Like Heather O’Reilly. She is a role model for me. So I think she really impacted me like she has been my coach. I would really like to motivate girls and be kind of a role model and continue to help them to bring out their competitive skills.
What fascinates you at most about soccer? It’s like a language for everybody. Do you also like to be really a team, to develop yourself, or what do you like most about the game itself?
I like how much you can learn about yourself and others. Like you are working in a team. You build a lot of leadership skills like self-believe, self-confidence and like creativity, to be able to be yourself in any environment. These are some things that I really learned during my time in soccer and trying to still get better.
I also talked to Anson [Dorrance; Coach; LS] from Chapel Hill, I was very impressed about the possibilities there. So would you say it’s the best to play in the US in Women’s Soccer because of the College teams? They have great facilities. The US is very far with the possibilities and I think that the US is much further along in development in some areas. They do so much for you or is it a wrong impression of me?
No, no, you are totally correct. The game is growing in America which is really cool on the Women’s side which means like creating Women’s pro teams which helps a lot of players get to the next levels. Because we have lots of talents in America. We just need to continue to feed them and have a place for them to go.
How is it about the respect? Because I think there are also the men’s teams at the colleges. So, do they respect each other or do they say something like ‘Oh, the Women…’ and so on – cause I think you are much further ahead than we are here in Germany. When you look at the first German league, 1st Bundesliga, they – not everybody for sure, but I often heard – say something like: ‘Oh, Women soccer…, hm, …well, …’ It’s a bit crazy in here to be honest. They really have to fight for their rights or for the respect.
I think it’s not like that in the US. In Germany the men teams don’t respect the women’s team that much when I played there. But in the US, the men’s side respect the women’s side.
Do you have a special moment you liked most in your career? You experienced lots of tournaments and you met lots of people from all over the world cause of soccer. Do you have one special story you kept in mind about which you would say: ‘Oh, that was really, really special and great’?
It’s really difficult. Maybe, I would say, when I was at the U15 qualifiers CONCACAF. We were there for a tournament and all the teams have been on the same place. My team started talking to the team of Trinidad and Tobago and having fun. They wanted to join us with them. So, we were all dancing together and before we played against each other. That was very special.
Another time, I guess, we have been in South Korea. We were staying at the same facility as the South Korean National Team. They had a ping pong room and we started a huge tournament with the South Koreans to see how we could compete. It was a lot of fun to compete with them in a different sport together.
But they are really good at ping pong, right?
They were very good, the beat us for sure.
At the current Championship in the Dominican Republic, did you also make a special experience about soccer or a meeting with a person?
Yeah, we played against Puerto Rico in our second game. A girl here, actually, came to me and said: ‘Hey, I think you are a great player…. Would you mind if we can take a picture together?’ She plays in Puerto Rico. That was really, really cool.
Of course, and she also gave me one of her practice shirts and smiled…
Thank you so much for your time. I did not want to talk so much to you cause you have the final today.