Spain’s multi-tasking midfield dynamo

There is more to Amanda Sampedro than meets the eye. As well as playing for Spain and captaining Atletico Madrid’s women’s team, she is also studying physiotherapy, and coaching not one but two football teams, all of which makes for quite a busy schedule.

No matter how pressed she is for time, however, Amanda always has a smile on her face, even when coming out straight out of an exam and into an interview with “If you’re not doing lots of things when you’re 21, then when are you going to do them?” said the bubbly Atleti skipper.

Amanda’s passion for the game was instilled in her by her father, who dreamed of having a boy to share his love for football with, but ended up with two girls instead. His dream came true in any case, with Amanda feeding off his enthusiasm and drawing on her talent and commitment to make her way in the game.

“Commitment is not negotiable” is a favourite maxim of Atleti coach Diego Simeone, and the message has certainly struck a chord with the club’s women’s captain, who is putting everything into her career.

As well as playing for her club every weekend and fighting it out at the top of the Spanish league, Amanda somehow finds time to train, fulfil her national team commitments, study for her university degree and dispatch her double coaching duties.

“I coach the Atleti U-10 girls’ B team,” she explained. “I started with them last year in the bottom division, and it was a real challenge teaching them all the things I've been taught. We got some good results and the girls were very happy. It made me proud and it was a great experience for me. I’m coaching the same girls this year. They’re ten now.”

Every Monday she also finds the time to give a football workshop organised by Atletico’s foundation at an inclusive school in Madrid.

“It’s something I enjoy a lot,” she said. “They’re girls who don’t have many opportunities in life and they’ve not had things easy. They’re very willing to learn, though, and they really appreciate what’s being done for them. They’re very grateful and they’ve given me an awful lot back. They’ve taught me to value people without judging them.”

Acknowledging El Cholo Simeone as her coaching role model, she added: “I see myself as more of a teacher than anything. I want the girls to enjoy playing, to get into the sport and take it seriously. Next summer, though, I’m going to take an intensive coaching course.”

Going places The goalscoring midfielder, who cited Atleti’s Arda Turan as her favourite player, will have to postpone her plans if she ends up forming part of the Spain side at their debut FIFA Women’s World Cup™ appearance in Canada next year.

“I hope so,” she said, contemplating that possibility. “It’s a dream of mine. Right now I'm just focusing hard on my team and being in the best shape possible. It’s going to be tough, and that goes for the coach too, because there are some really good players around.”

Having stood on both sides of the touchline, Amanda knows all about the problems and responsibilities that come with being a coach.

“It’s a very tough job,” she explained. “First you have to gel with the team. It’s not an easy task to keep everyone in the dressing room happy. You have to make some painful decisions, and I’m only coaching young girls. It’s much worse at professional level.”

As for her playing career, Amanda already has plenty of international experience, having captained the Spain side that finished third at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Trinidad and Tobago 2010 and won one UEFA European Championship in the age group and finished runners-up in another.

Her latest World Cup dream could well become a reality. Skilful and never anything less than committed, she has been called up to the national side on the last few occasions and formed part of the Spain squad that took part in last year’s UEFA Women’s EURO in Sweden.

“You really mature when you compete at that level,” said Amanda, who stayed on the bench for the duration of the European finals. “It makes you strong and it helps you develop technically, tactically and competitively. It prepares you for taking part in another big tournament.”

Discussing Spain’s chances at Canada 2015, she said: “We’re working hard and we could go far. It would be good if we could miss the big names in the draw, like Germany and USA, but we’re not scared. We’ll play whoever we have to and we’ll be taking things slowly in Canada.”

Just like her mentor Simeone, the effervescent Amanda believes in taking it one game at a game, which is just as well given her hectic agenda.