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Youth Olympics

Brave Iturbides back on her feet, again

(FIFA.com)
Goalkeeper Pia Iturbides #1 of the Dominican Republic 
© Getty Images
  • Iturbides is goalkeeper for newcomers Dominican Republic
  • Her team have suffered heavy defeats in their two games so far
  • She is no stranger to adversity

“This is what I do: fall to the floor and learn to get back on my feet again.”

In the case of Dominican Republic goalkeeper Pia Iturbides, those words are a fact of life. They came after her side had just suffered their second heavy defeat of the Women’s Youth Olympic Futsal Tournament Buenos Aires 2018, which left Iturbides not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

The young keeper has endured much more in her life than two lost futsal matches. She was only 12 when a family tragedy led to her moving from the resort of Punta Cana to Santo Domingo, the country’s capital. She was down, but far from out.

“It’s one thing to talk about the hard lessons life teaches you, and another to actually experience them; when it happens you just have to do the best you can, which is what I do,” said Iturbides, who has made some fine stops at Buenos Aires 2018 while conceding 14 of the 23 goals her side have shipped to date.

Her association with futsal began while she was in high school in Santo Domingo.

“It was in a PE class,” she said, taking up the story. “I was the only girl and like all the boys I wanted to be an outfield player, but the teacher put me in goal. I discovered I had these reflexes and they selected me for the school team.”

While keeping up her school studies, she then played for three amateur clubs before earning her selection for the national Olympic team, the first to represent Dominican Republic in a FIFA tournament.

“We spent ten months preparing for the Youth Olympic Games and we knew that we’d be coming up against teams that were better than us,” she explained. “That’s what learning’s all about, though. Even though we’re losing matches, we need to learn from our mistakes and keep moving forward.”

Iturbides is one of life’s optimists, and she projects her sunny outlook on life out on the futsal court, where she is all smiles and positive attitude. In recognition of that, a group of fans chanted her name during her team’s match against Portugal, after which she went over to speak to them and pose for photos.

“I think they took me into their hearts,” she said with a laugh. “How am I not going to enjoy all this? Dominican Republic, a country that produces out-and-out baseball players, is playing futsal at the Olympic Games and has the chance to take on a powerhouse like Portugal.”

Regardless of what the rest of the tournament brings, Iturbides has an important goal to achieve before June 2019: to find a university where she can study and continue playing futsal.

“It started out being just a sport where I could de-stress myself, but now I just love it,” she said, before contemplating what the future might hold for her national team: “I hope this squad can be the foundation for something better and stronger. Time will tell.”

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