Skip to content

Weyburn soccer player shares experiences of her journey to Spain

For Weyburn soccer player Gabriella Friesen, her “journey to Spain” was a trip of a lifetime, with a busy international tournament in Madrid.

WEYBURN – For Weyburn soccer player Gabriella Friesen, her “journey to Spain” was a trip of a lifetime, with a busy international tournament in Madrid, followed by a relaxing week in Amsterdam, Netherlands with her mother, Tammy.

Gabriella and her mom hosted a come-and-go reception on Sunday afternoon, and she was able to share some of the many unique experiences that filled her two weeks in Europe.

They spent March 20 to 29 in Madrid, with much of the time spent training or playing games with long days on the field.

Gabriella noted after their long flight in to Madrid, their first day was spent relaxing and adjusting to the eight-hour time difference, before getting right into a team introduction and training the next day.

Of the players on Team Canada, Gabriella was the only girl on the U14 team, which she admitted was awkward as these boys weren’t sure what to expect from her.

She ended up playing defence, as the team already had a goaltender from a Quebec academy, but they relaxed once they saw her abilities on the field.

They won their first game, which amazed Gabriella, because it was against Brazil, known as a powerhouse country for soccer. Even when they told other teams at the 22-team tournament that they had won 3-1, most were amazed the Canadians did that well.

In the end, they played seven games and won most of them, tying one game and losing only one match to a combined European team that included Germany and Switzerland elite players.

The loss was in the semi-finals, and they went on to play the U.S. in the bronze medal game, and won the game, giving them bronze out of the 22 U-14 teams.

A highlight for Gabriella was going to the REAL Madrid stadium for a charity game, and she was astounded to hear the sheer level of noise from the 80,000 fans that packed the stadium.

She noted she could hear the noise of the fans as soon as she exited her taxi with her mom outside of the stadium, and the roar of the crowd was almost overwhelming at times inside.

Tammy noted that most of the days were long ones, starting in the morning and going until 8 p.m. in the evenings with practices and games. The pair spent a week in Amsterdam to wind down and relax after the high energy week in Madrid, and they were able to sight-see in the city and around it, including seeing the many large tulip fields.

Gabriella’s main coach in Madrid spoke fluent English, which she was very glad of, but otherwise she noted she had the Google Translate app on all the time as many other coaches and players did not speak English.

“We were very well taken care of, and we stayed in an amazing hotel and conference centre,” said Tammy, noting that due to the long days on the fields, they actually didn’t spend a lot of time at their hotel, other than to sleep, and to eat breakfast in the morning.

Since returning home, Gabriella tried out for and made the provincial Forge team, and has attended the tryouts for the Southeast team for the Sask. Summer Games. There is one more tryout for that team this weekend, then the soccer season will get underway which will keep Gabriella busy from Monday to Thursday on the field, and travelling nearly every weekend for games or training.