Soccer in Barcelona
Katie, SAI Barcelona
April 17, 2024

Amidst the hustle and bustle of Barcelona, a group of ten SAI Spring 2024 students carved out time every Tuesday night to play the very popular European sport, soccer. The students participated in a local study abroad league, competing against other English speakers living in Barcelona. They laced up their cleats and took to the field, not only displaying their love for the game but also their commitment to teamwork and sportsmanship. Despite the demands of homework, school projects, and the challenges of navigating life in a new country, these students came together each week enthusiastic and hopeful for a win.

For Bryant, a student from the U. of South Carolina, the league provided a nice escape from school. “It’s just been nice getting to come out here every Tuesday once a week and getting active. I don’t really get as much activity during the week because I’m just going to class,” he said. Similarly, Whit from the U. of Georgia said, “It’s nice to be able to get out and do something active in between all the other activities and classes. I love playing soccer. It’s been a fun way to do it.”

Through victories and losses, the SAI students stood by each other, celebrating successes and lifting each other up during setbacks. Sidney, our star goal scorer from U. of South Carolina, highlighted the importance of playing despite the score. “I loved my experience. It’s been so much fun even if our team hasn’t been winning as much as we expected. It’s just been fun to play together and get to know one another in our program,” Rathel said. It was wonderful to witness the students support each other through small injuries, losses, and winning goals. The team cheered each player on throughout the highs and lows.

 Reflecting on their experience, the students expressed gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the league, acknowledging personal growth and new friendships. Our fearless U. of South Carolina goalie, Lucy, stated, “I have loved my experience playing soccer here in Barcelona. I’ve met people that I wouldn’t have met without playing. I probably won’t play at home, but I did gain a new skill set and tried something new. It definitely inspires me to try new things when I go back home.”

For Izaiah, a New York native from U. of South Carolina, the soccer field served as a catalyst for meaningful connections beyond the game itself. He explained, “I did gain some skills in meeting new people. I did this with two of my friends, but meeting everybody else on the team was nice. We got to go out after the first game. It was cool just getting to know more people.” These interactions, both on and off the pitch, enriched many of their study abroad experiences and left a lasting impact on each participant. Even those less familiar with the sport, like Aidan from U. of Georgia, found enjoyment in the camaraderie and sense of community within the SAI team. Aidan stated, “I actually don’t play soccer at all, and it’s been a fine experience with a super fun team. I would recommend it to anyone looking into it. I had a great time. I’ve connected with the SAI community and other schools/international students we’ve played against. We haven’t had a chance to meet locals, but it has been great either way. I probably won’t play soccer when I get back home, but I have had a lot of fun playing it here in Barcelona.”

To wrap up the fantastic season, the team indulged in delicious pizza at Da Nanni’s pizzeria, marking the end of a memorable few months together. As the semester draws to a close and the final whistle blows on the students’ time in Barcelona, the memories created and lessons learned will live on. Despite diverse backgrounds and interests, the SAI soccer players came together under a common motive: to meet newpeople and do something outside their comfort zone. Cheers to a great soccer season  and the SAI Warriors! 🏆⚽️

Want to see the students in action? Check out videos of our game footage and interviews


Written by: Katie, SAI Barcelona Assistant Program Coordinator

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