BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Former Gov. Livingston Highlanders soccer standout Catalina Abusada (2019) has embarked on an exciting athletic journey that will have her competing with the Chilean national U20 soccer team.
Abusada, who led Gov. Livingston to the 2018 NJSIAA Group II state title, is also a member of the Stevens Institute of Technology women's soccer team. She completed her freshman season this past fall as a key reserve for a 17-4-1 Stevens Tech squad.
Unfortunately, her season with the Chilian national team has currently been suspended due to the mandated restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
TAPinto was in touch with Abusada [prior to the announcement of the suspension of the season] to learn about her experience.
TAPinto: Congratulations on the opportunity to play for the Chilean National team! Can you tell us how you were selected to play for the team?
Cat: It all happened when I went to Chile in my junior year of High School. I went to visit my family and I contacted the Chilean fútbol association asking to train with any club since I was about to start my club season and I wanted to prepare and get ready, so they invited me to train in their off season with the U17 National team.
TAPinto: Did you always have aspirations to play for the Chilean national team?
Cat: I was extremely honored to train with them since I’ve always wanted to know how it's like to be a player and the level in which they train at in the national team.
TAPinto: What was the process that got you to Chile?
Cat: I was called back again in the summer of my senior year and in September 2019 I had to get my Chilean citizenship ready for the Sudamericano Tornament in March 2020, however since it takes at least a year to get those papers, it wasn’t guaranteed that they would be ready by then. Luckily, my papers pulled through, and I was on my way to Chile.
TAPinto: What position are you playing? Is the style of play different than what you are used to?
Cat: I usually play in the midfield in the US but when I was playing with Chile I was set as a winger. It was a change from what I’m used to, but it wasn’t anything new. As a midfielder. you have a sense of every position so playing as a winger was translating the ideas of a midfielder to doing the action.
TAPinto: Do you have family you stay with in Chile?
Cat: I stayed with my Aunt there but there were days that we would be housed at the ANFP, where the players would sleep, eat, hangout with each other, have meetings, go over set plays and tactics, and train.
TAPinto: How is life with the team?
Cat: At first, it was a bit difficult to communicate with my teammates because I didn’t know how to say soccer actions in Spanish, such as “man on” or “overlap”. But the girls were very supportive of each other, so they helped me the whole time I was there.
What I love most about this group of girls is that even though they’re all fighting for a international starting spot or playing time, they all help each other out on the field, encouraging each other to push an extra step, sprint, tackle, or even tactically too, so they would all get stronger as a group and it shows on the field when they play.
Valairco Heating & Cooling is the proud sponsor of the Highlander Athlete of the Week and GL Alumni Scoreboard.
Kevin McHugh, Valairco Owner and President and Berkeley Heights resident, is an alumni of Gov. Livingston High School.
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