You don't know Kelly Chiavaro's name? You should. Without anyone talking about her, she made her way into the world of global women's soccer.
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After a season in Israel and another in Italian Serie A, the 26-year-old goalkeeper from Montreal recently joined one of the most prestigious clubs in the world.
She has been wearing the colors of the renowned Brazilian club Flamengo, which is located in Rio, for a few days.
“I signed a one-year contract with a possibility of a six-month extension. »
Chiavaro arrives in his new team at a time when it is on hiatus due to the Copa América. Upon return, the team will be engaged in the playoffs.
If Chiavaro now finds herself in South America, it is because she first passed through Italy where she played in Naples last season. It was a teammate in Naples who put her on the Brazilian track.
It was as much by choice as by obligation that Chiavaro left Napoli where she was happy.
“We were relegated to division two, I would have liked to stay in Naples if we had stayed in division one. If I want to play with the national team, I have to be in the first division.
"It's my best moment in football," she added. It was a difficult year because I didn't play a lot. It was a learning year because technically it was my first real professional year in Europe. »
Her first professional season was with Maccabi Emek Hefer, a club based in the suburbs of Tel Aviv, Israel, that she experienced it.
She was then out of Colgate University where she studied psychology and brain science.
“The most exotic thing is the language, Hebrew is very different from what we know. Even after a year, I could understand a little of what the coach was saying, but that was rare.
“Two or three players spoke English so they translated for the internationals. I could never have a conversation without a translator with the coach. »
She keeps a good memory of it, on the sporting level, affirming that it is “a good league to live a first professional experience. »
On the human level, things were very different. She became aware of a reality that does not often make its way into our news.
“We live under the Iron Dome,” a missile defense system that protects Israeli airspace from cross-border attacks.
“In the spring of 2021, things went wrong. After a practice we were in the car and ended up hearing a siren not knowing what it was. We saw the cars stop on the side of the road, and people lay down on the ground. »
The weeks that followed contained their share of anguish.
You could see the missiles in the sky and for two weeks there were missiles falling in Tel Aviv, something that hadn't happened in years. It was toxic, the Israelis and Arabs on the team weren't talking to each other. »
During her time in Italy last season, Kelly Chiavaro had an opportunity that never came to her in Canada: to play for the national team.
It was by a happy combination of circumstances that she participated in the European Beach Soccer Cup with the Italian women's team. The competition took place in Nazaré, Portugal.
“I have a cousin who lives in Italy and was captain for years of the national men's beach soccer team. They were looking for a goalie for the women's team and I was invited to a camp.
"It's a completely different sport. There are three periods of twelve minutes, there are changes during the game, the field is smaller and we play with four players and a goalkeeper. The ball is played a lot in the air. I had to go to YouTube to watch matches to re-schedule myself and familiarize myself with the rules. »
Now that she has participated in a competition with an Italian team, she is attached to this nation internationally.
She therefore hopes that it will be for her to climb the ladder of Italian women's soccer. Note that since her father is Italian, she holds a passport from Garibaldi's homeland.
"Beach [soccer] is a step in the right direction because I'm now in the system, even though there they see it as two different sports.
“In the future I would like to go back to Italy and I am in the system whereas here I have never been given the opportunity to be in the system. »
Even though she has always played at a high level and played in the NCAA Premier League, she has always been ignored by the Canadian national team.
“For a long time, I was disappointed, and even here, in Quebec soccer, when I was younger, I believed that I deserved my chance. »
She recognizes, however, that she has her share of responsibility because it may have taken her a little time to take her sport really seriously.
"When I was younger, I didn't have the maturity that I have now. Today, I give my all and I was not like that when I was younger.
“I always wanted to play in Europe and in the NCAA. But I did not have the perseverance and the investment that I have today. »