Fernandez recently left Espanyol for Osasuna
She discussed her football aspirations and love of woodwork
'Palomanitas' also enjoys mountain biking and collecting things
Even when she is not playing, training or travelling to games, you are unlikely to find Paloma Fernandez on the couch binge-watching a TV series. What is much more likely is that you would catch her racking up the miles on her mountain bike, reading, cooking or unleashing her creativity with a wood sander in her hand.
"I'm someone who never stops," she told FIFA.com, chuckling. "I have a ton of hobbies that also help me escape football a little, especially when things aren't going well, like this year."
That is because the former captain of Espanyol – one of Spanish women's football’s pioneering sides but currently in a slump – and new Osasuna signing has just endured one of the most complicated seasons of her professional career.
Fernandez explained: "At club level this season has been something of a catastrophe (Espanyol have gone a year without winning and were only spared relegation to the second division by the suspension of the season due to COVID-19), while on a personal level, I wasn’t used much by the coaches and so wasn’t able to help. And so I dealt with the frustration of not being able to do what I want because of the restrictions and coaching preferences by focusing on my other hobbies, like making my furniture."
Paloma played 200 games with Espanyol, scoring 32 times for them in the league
In her first year with the club, she won the Copa Catalunya
Her finest moment was playing at the Estadio Cornella against Atletico Madrid in front of 20,000 fans in 2019: "I really felt like a footballer that day." In one section of the stadium, a giant banner was unfurled with her image.
Her Instagram account demonstrates how much #Palomanitas, one of her many nicknames, has vented her frustration through her woodwork, a hobby that runs in the family.
"At home my father has a small workshop with tools, and my grandfather also built models," she said. "As a child, I remember going into the workshop and asking my father to give me four planks of wood and a saw so I can build something.”
Making furniture from wooden pallets is her specialty: "For example, I made my sister a table for the living room that was very cool, and I also made myself a sofa for my terrace. As you already have the structure, it’s about sanding it, treating the wood a little."
Some of her Instagram posts are genuine tutorials, although at the moment she has no plans to become a YouTuber. "A lot of people have asked me to do it, to have a record of it," she said, laughing.
Now 30, her priority remains football, and after bringing the curtain down on a seven-season stint with Espanyol, she is excited about the challenge of getting promotion to the first division with Osasuna.
"They're doing very well," Fernandez said. "The fact that the team have twice played at El Sadar – where the men's team play – despite ours being a second-tier side is already something very encouraging. The project here is very ambitious."
She has already picked out a room in her new apartment in Pamplona to store her tools and new wooden creations. Furthermore, she has already been thinking of how she might make use of her free time.
"I might be able to take a carpentry course that is compatible with my playing duties at Osasuna," she said. "As I’m self-taught, I’m considering studying it to learn how to do better designs and understand materials."
#PalominoEnElCamino: Bike tours in the mountains are another of her hobbies, and two years ago, she did an 820km solo cycle of the Camino de Santiago del Norte.
#FrikiDePalo: Paloma collects everything from football shirts from the countries she visits to cans of Coca-Cola from football tournaments.
#ChefDePalo: "I discovered cooking during quarantine and, because I had time on my hands, I made myself a customised chef's hat."
This article is part of our ‘Women in Football’ series where we take a behind-the-scenes look at influential figures. Next week we will be focusing on Rachel Brown.