Teresa Olombrada, a student of Law and International Relations from Segovia, is part of IE University's women's soccer team.
Valentín Olombrada was always waiting by the phone when his granddaughter played soccer. When the referee blew the whistle at the end of the game, little Teresa would look for her cell phone to call her grandfather. That communication was an absolutely necessary ritual for both of them. It was tremendously exciting for Teresa to tell her grandfather Valentín what that day’s match had been like—whether they had won or lost, whether she had scored a goal… Those phone calls further strengthened the powerful bond between them.
Now, Teresa is no longer in a hurry when her match is over. Her grandfather passed away a few years ago, but his memory lives on in her heart. She speaks of him with tremendous affection. In his absence, the 18-year-old Segovian promised herself never to forget him. That’s why she wears the number 16 printed on her soccer shirt, “because my grandfather Valentín was born on the 16th, so he’ll always be with me.”
A double degree Law and International relations student, Teresa also plays for IE’s women’s soccer team, IE University Athletics. “Soccer is so much fun,” she says as her eyes light up. She is currently a striker in the team that leads the newly created provincial league in Segovia. “How many goals have you scored?” I ask. Teresa is humble and doesn’t want to tell me. I insist, and she tells me as if it were a big secret. “Three goals in three games? That’s great,” I say in surprise, and add that “any striker would love to boast those numbers.”
Their start in the local league couldn’t have gone better. The IE University team, coached by Juanjo Velasco, has won all three matches and remains in first position in a five-team league, which is the first competition of its kind in Castile and León. There are currently about 22 girls on the IE University team. As expected, they’re all from so many different countries that Teresa can’t tell me exactly which ones. One thing’s for sure, and it’s that this is one of the most diverse women’s soccer teams on the national scene. “There’s a lot of talent,” claims Teresa, who emphasizes that many of her teammates come from Latin America, a region of the world with a proven tradition for playing soccer. “Some players really stand out because before coming to Segovia they already played in women’s teams in their home countries.” Competing in a league is a great incentive for these students, who have to combine their studies with training and playing games. Teresa says that “we’re aware that we’re planting the seeds of women’s soccer in Segovia.”
At first sight, she has the makings of a great striker, although she confesses that she started out in defense for 11 years, at Santa Teresa women’s soccer club in Bajadoz. Her coach at the time convinced her that, as she was one of the tallest players, her natural position was as a center-back. She ended up shooting the penalty kicks and became the team’s top goal scorer. And do you have a role model? The IE University Athletics striker doesn’t hesitate: Andrés Iniesta, who scored the goal that won Spain their first World Cup. “I’m a big fan of Iniesta, not only as a soccer player, but I also admire his way of life.” As a pro-Segovian, she has a team to follow: Gimnástica Segoviana FC, the city team that plays in the Third Division. “I don’t support any specific team,” she insists, but “Segoviana is in my heart.”
Not everything in Teresa’s life revolves around soccer. Her university studies are an absolute priority. She is currently in her second year of Law and International Relations, studying at the Segovia campus. Her degree is funded by a scholarship granted by the Provincial Council. Thanks to an agreement with this institution, which ceded the former Santa Cruz Convent for university use, IE finances scholarships for Segovian students to study at its Segovia campus.
Teresa is an academically gifted student who is making the most of the opportunity her parents have given her to study at IE University. “Since I was a child, I have loved diplomacy and especially everything to do with the European Union,” she says. For family reasons, Teresa lived in Strasbourg and completed high school in Brussels. This experience allowed her to grow up very close to the major European decision-making institutions, to acquire a global perspective of the world, and to be taught in several languages, while also learning other disciplines. So, this young Segovian is fluent in French and English, speaks Portuguese and studies German. “The double degree I study at IE University suits my interests perfectly, as we’re taught absolutely everything needed to embark on a diplomatic career.”
“The environment at the university is ideal. Segovia is my home. It’s a quiet city yet, at the same time, I live in an international environment surrounded by students from across the globe,” she explains.
This past semester, Teresa and some of her peers embarked on a project focused on Segovia, as they collaborated with the Paladio Arte association. The IE University students carried out a series of consultancy work for the association of people with disabilities, with the aim of finding new sources of funding. They also helped them to raise awareness about their work as a Special Employment Center and theater company for the integration, in both society and work, of people at risk of social exclusion—especially those with physical, mental or sensory disabilities. “I know that many IE University students would be delighted to collaborate with associations such as Paladio Arte. After all, Segovia is the city that’s welcoming them, and many feel the need to thank Segovians for their hospitality,” she concludes.