Born in Colombia, South America, Paula moved with her family to Spain at the age of four before moving to Manchester three years ago. She has built up her education and sporting ability as a goalkeeper in the process, proving her personal and professional development knows no bounds.
Paula’s love of football grew strong through her father’s influence in Colombia and she grew up watching the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gerard Piqué, and latterly Juan Mata and David de Gea, don the famous Manchester United shirt.
She had an unconventional start to her life as a goalkeeper, beginning as a striker, only to be put in between the sticks due to an injury to the first choice keeper. Paula’s goalkeeping skills impressed so much that she continued in the position and has never looked back.
Paula said, “I only started playing football when I moved to Spain and I started playing as a striker to start off, but I was really bad. The first time I went in net I did really well so they kept me and I really liked being a goalkeeper from that day on.”
Now living in Manchester and studying a BTEC in Sport qualification run by Manchester United Foundation in partnership with Eccles Sixth Form College, Salford, she credits the course for aiding her confidence and giving her the chance to develop in both her studies and her sport.
“I’ve always liked sports and really liked the idea of combining that with playing on a football programme linked with Manchester United Foundation,” Paula said. “I love the way the tutors teach us, and how they make the subjects and classroom interactive and interesting. It’s really helped me as on the pitch I feel like I am a better goalkeeper than when I started the course and off the pitch I am more confident speaking to the girls on the team and to other people outside college.”
Receiving one-on-one coaching from a Manchester United player is something many people can only dream of but through her studies on the BTEC, Paula has been receiving pro tips from the likes of Sergio Romero. United’s second choice keeper and fellow South American native was only too happy to guide Paula through many different training exercises and in-game situations much to the teenager’s delight.
“It was a great experience getting to know a player like Sergio; someone who has played in a World Cup Final and has won an Olympic gold medal,” Paula said. “He taught me a lot in a short space of time and was great at giving me advice that I now think about in training and in games.”
The future looks promising for Paula, who plans to attend University and ultimately pursue a job in the sports industry, all whilst continuing to play the sport that she loves.
“I like the idea of playing football while getting my qualifications. I’d like to go to university and get a job in the sports industry, whilst continuing to play football as a keeper.”