“Never Let Fear Deter You.” – Havana Solaun
American and Jamaican roots, raised in Florida, playing for Norwegian club Klepp IL and currently in France for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Read on to find out how the midfielder is living her dream by traveling the world.
The beginnings and the constant
I grew up in Gainesville but moved around a lot. I went from Hong Kong to Florida to Singapore to Florida to Canada and then finally back to Florida. Growing up soccer was a way for me to express myself and a place I always felt free from the stresses of life. It also provided my life with a constant with all the moving my family did. From when I started playing till now I fell in love with the creativity the game allows. Soccer still has a very similar meaning for me, many years later. Its a place where I feel free and is the vehicle through which I express myself. It is still the constant in the transient lifestyle of a professional footballer. Soccer has become one of the greatest teachers that I have encountered.
Norwegian vs American football play
The biggest difference between playing in Norway vs America is the style of play and the pace of the game. In the US the game is often very transitional and one hundred miles an hour. The soccer culture around the world is also very different. After spending 4 seasons in the US I got a good feel for soccer in America. Coming to Norway has shown me a totally different side of the game. Along with different league rules and standards, Norway offers a more liberating and development-minded experience.
My favorite football memory and greatest soccer achievement were one and the same. Getting my first cap for the Jamaica National Team. It was a big moment for a lot of reasons, the biggest being that my mom was there to see it. My mom has been my biggest fan and supporter through all the ups and down in my career. My Jamaican lineage also comes from her. Being able to experience that moment with her there has been one of my greatest soccer memories.
The tough obstacles
The biggest obstacle I have had to overcome was breaking my leg. My rookie year I landed awkwardly and ended up breaking my leg and needing two surgeries, 9 screws, and one plate to fix the break. I was out for an entire year. The hardest part was starting from ground zero. Losing all of my muscle and learning how to walk again. When you’re a baby learning how to walk is exciting because its new. Learning how to walk again as an adult is a humbling experience. At the end of the day, I overcame it because of my support system and my unwavering desire to make it back to the pitch. My mom was my emotional support and my stepdad walked me through the rehab process. It was a long year filled with self-doubt and sleepless nights. Injuries have a way of teaching you about yourself. I will forever be grateful for my family supporting me through that time.
The people behind the success
My biggest supporters are my family. My mom, dad, stepdads, my sisters and my little brother. Since I was little and traveling all over playing soccer tournaments, deciding where I was going to play in college, and making the transition as a professional player my family has always been there to keep me going. Through all the good and bad times their support is unconditional and never faltered. If I could say one thing to them, I will tell them that I wouldn’t be here without them. I wouldn’t be here living my dream without each and every single one of them. I would say thank you. Thank you for picking me up when I was down. Thank you for believing in me in the moments I couldn’t believe in myself. Thank you for supporting me while I chase my dreams.
Advice for those to come
My life mission is to leave the world a better place then I found it. The world is a big place but if we all do our part to make “our world” a better place then maybe one day the sum of all the parts will be enough. Right now my world is the soccer world. My mission is to do all that I can to not only create a better environment for the next generation of female soccer players. I want to inspire young females to be confident in themselves and what they have to offer.
My advice to those following in my footsteps would be to lean into fear. There will always be obstacles and hard times but never let fear deter you from your greatest goals and dreams.
- DoB: 23rd of February 1993
- PoB: Gainesville, Florida, United States
- Nationality: American, Jamaican
- Height: 1,75m/5’9”
- Position: Midfielder
- Club: Klepp IL (Norway)
- Squad Number: 10
- Previous clubs: Seattle Reign FC, Washington Spirit