What better way to make new friends than on the football field? When the pandemic shifted classes online, it became more difficult to socialize and connect with other students. That’s where the Segovia Inter-Bachelor Football Tournament came in.

Students formed teams with classmates from their bachelor’s program and took to the pitch to show off their skills and bond over some friendly games.

We sat down with tournament players Vera Prohaska (Bachelor in Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence), Manuela Del Solar (Bachelor in Business Administration), Augustus Sirbu (Bachelor in International Relations), Teresa Olombrada Rodríguez (Dual Degree in Laws + International Relations), and Joaquin Herz (Dual Degree in Business Administration + International Relations) to talk about making new friends, finally meeting people face to face and one team’s surprising victory.


What is the Segovia Inter-Bachelor Football Tournament?

Teresa: The Segovia campus has been hosting games ever since the sports area was built. But this year, IE University Athletics started organizing them more frequently in order to give students some fun weekend activities while everything else is closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. This tournament was different because the teams were not open: they had to consist exclusively of students from the same bachelor’s program. That is why it was called “the Inter-Bachelor Football Tournament.”

The reason for that is—again, due to COVID-19 restrictions—we realized that some people from the same bachelor’s program hadn’t even met before. Plus, forcing students to find teammates based on their program instead of their football skills made the teams more diverse and focused on having fun rather than winning. To strengthen this, one of the tournament rules was that teams needed to have at least four girls. These regulations integrated the event and made it more social and integrating, which was the overarching aim of an inter-bachelor tournament.

How did you find out about the event?

Vera: I am on the football team, so I see Teresa almost every practice. I had asked her a couple of times to hold another inter-bachelor tournament and she promised me back in November that it would take place in January. I was probably aware of it before it even happened! In any case, my classmates and I like to play with each other when we have some free time, so we kind of already had a team that was excited to play.

Joaquin: Our team saw the announcements for the tournament on the IEU Athletics Instagram page, and decided to sign up for it last minute. Luckily we did it on time!

What are your highlights from the tournament?

Vera: Our team dynamic was great since we already knew how each of us played. We loved it! We won all of our games except for one, so we placed second. As I was the only girl on my team, I was on the pitch the entire time during every game, which was very tiring by the end of the day. Nonetheless, I loved every minute of it. Our team also played back-to-back 24-minute games (the last two games) which I believe played a role in us losing 2-1 in the finals.

Manuela: What I liked most about the Inter-Bachelor Football Tournament was being able to play against other teams in a fun environment, while still being careful about COVID-19 regulations. I think it gave first- and second-year students the opportunity to meet in a friendly, safe environment.

Joaquin: Our team was very supportive of each other, and a lot of other people from our bachelor’s program came out to support us which was really nice. We enjoyed the experience because it brought us closer together, and we had a good time even though we didn’t play amazingly, unfortunately.

Augustus: I think the best part of the event was bonding with the teammates in my program. Most of us participated just to have fun. Plus, a lot of our class had to spend the first semester online due to the pandemic, so getting the chance to see them in the flesh was very welcome. We got to learn more about each other, and naturally develop friendships that I’m confident will last for years to come. And to think that the humble Bachelor in International Relations team, full of football novices simply looking to enjoy themselves, managed to rise above our opposition and qualify for the semi-finals! I never doubted that we had pure talent, despite our lack of experience; we just needed to have cohesion and a mutual understanding of our roles and responsibilities. I believe we succeeded thanks primarily to all the team building we had done prior to the tournament. While I knew we could make it to the next round, to actually succeed was indescribable—sort of like an underdog story. It was as if a non-league team somehow fluked their way to the knockout rounds of the Champions League. Absolutely incredible. There is no other team I would have chosen to go on this journey with, and on a better day, I’m sure we would have gone even further.

Nevertheless, we got hammered 5-1 in the semi-finals by a team that was superior to us in every sense and who unquestionably deserved to win the game and the whole tournament. I’d like to send my deepest congratulations to them on their achievement. That was the end of our Cinderella story, but it’s the journey that counts—not the destination, right? Well, what a journey it has been. Hopefully, we get to do something like this again, to build on our strengths and rectify our weaknesses. We will go the distance, if not in body, then certainly in spirit.

Are you going to join the next tournament?

Vera: Definitely! For one, we need to redeem ourselves and win those scarves that only the first place team gets.


Why should students participate in these kinds of events?

Manuela: I would encourage students to join and participate in these events since they provide a fun and safe environment to meet new people.

Augustus: Well, as I mentioned before, the primary benefit was our teamwork and our appreciation for each other. We were already interconnected long before the tournament, but I think this experience took it to another level. Celebrating together in victory and supporting each other in defeat is certainly a skill we will need in the future. These events also really help establish sportsmanship and respect. Being able to concede defeat gracefully and respect your opposition as well as everyone around you is a core life lesson—one that is most prevalent in sporting tournaments like these. Finally, we learned that no matter the odds or how intimidating the challenges ahead of you might be, there is always a way to get past it. You just have to know how to overcome those challenges and work together.

Teresa: This kind of event helps students get a bit closer to the IE University experience that they might be missing due to the pandemic. It’s an opportunity to get to know your peers in a different setting, as well as people from other bachelor’s programs who you would normally meet at social events, but can’t at the moment. In a few words, this is a partial substitute—or let’s call it a simulation—of the full IEU student experience.

Any words of encouragement to get people out on the pitch?

Teresa: No plans on a Saturday morning? We’ve got the best plan for you right here: sports, open-air, music, and new faces—even if they’re masked!