#OneTeam – Liana Salazar
Q: World cup and international soccer, Columbians are tremendously talented. Were you one of a million girls who played soccer at home?
A: “That’s something that is very different from here. I was working in camps in Lawrence this week and you saw little kids playing. More than 100 girls playing. In Colombia, you can’t find that. We don’t have so much support. It’s hard for girls to play there. I was thinking I wish I could be able to go the camp when I was four, but no.”
Q: It’s non-traditional for women to play sports in Colombia?
A: “When we start playing, it was a lot of controversy about women’s soccer in Colombia. Because nobody knows about women’s soccer. When people started watching us, they would ask ‘What are you guys doing? Soccer is not for women.’ We hear a lot of bad comments, destructive comments. We said no, we can play and soccer is not just for guys, it’s for women.”
Q: So how did you play as a little girl with that controversy?
A: I played with boys. I was the only girl. It’s just different. But now after we start with the national team after we went to the world cup, and people started seeing that there is a potential in Colombia, they started building women’s clubs. It’s getting better, but compared to here, it’s so behind.
Q: What was that like for your mom to have a daughter doing something controversial?
A: “Most moms in Colombia don’t support that. They’re like, ‘No, my girl can’t play soccer because that’s for guys.’ My mom she’s so open-minded, she always told me to go do whatever I want.”
Q: Is that why you came to the United States?
A: “I think that was one of the main reasons why I came, because here I knew I would be able to study and play soccer in a high level at the same time. That’s what I want to do. In Colombia, we don’t have that. You either study – or you study. Then, when the pro league started, I was like ‘YES, now I can stay here. I don’t have to move’ And there is a team in Kansas, which is good. I was very excited about that. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but yeah, I’m not going back to Colombia, just to visit my family. That’s it.”
Q: When you arrived on campus, did you speak English?
A: “Not at all. I studied English in school, but then I got here and realized you didn’t learn anything until you lived in it. I’m getting better. Now when I go home, my family wants me to say things in English, but I’m like why? You don’t know what I’m saying.”
Q: Being the only one in your family to move away to the United States, do you feel you were going against tradition in your family, to go to college in the U.S.?
A: “Actually no. They all still get together for Sunday lunch without me, which I hate because I miss that so much. But no, I think when I go there, that brings my family close because all my family wants to see me, ‘Liana is here, let’s go.’ So it actually helps.”
Q: Was that hard for you to be the one that’s so far away?
A: “No, because I did play with my national team and we traveled a lot. So for me it’s not hard being away, it’s normal. Like I said, sometimes I miss my family, but when I’m there, I like to be there for about a month. No longer than that because I miss this. I miss school, I miss practice, I miss it here. I like this environment.”
Q: Is Bogota crowded? Is there much room for soccer fields?
A: It’s very different from here. We have very big buildings there, I think the big one here is Fraser Hall. It’s like China – buildings just go up, not wide. We have places you can go and play soccer. There’s room. In terms of living, it’s just apartments, apartments, apartments. There’s not so much room to build houses like there is here. Houses here are huge. But there it’s not. You have to be outside the city.”
Q: Did you live in an apartment growing up?
A: Yes. I like apartments, I feel like that brings the family close. That’s why I like apartments and not houses, I feel like everyone is too spread out. I went to Haley Yearout’s house, my teammate, and her house is huge. You don’t notice if your sister is there with you or your dad or your mom. You just don’t notice. It’s weird.”
Q: What is it like to drive in Bogota?
A: “It’s crazy; it’s a city with a lot of cars. People have two or three cars per family and the streets are just two sides. So it’s just crazy. Also we have taxis, buses and a metro, so it’s so busy all the time. You go out and you hear so much noise, pollution and everything.”
Q: Do you laugh when people in Lawrence say traffic is bad?
A: “Yes exactly. Some of my teammates say there is so much traffic – and there are four cars ahead of them. I’m like seriously, you should go to Colombia, you can spend an hour, two hours in traffic.”
Q: You can basically just walk over from the Towers and be on a soccer field. How long would it take you to get to a soccer field back home?
A: “Longer because there is a lot of traffic. Maybe 45 minutes, more. It’s because of the traffic. If we didn’t have traffic it would be 10-15 minutes.”