New challenge

New challenge

Reggae Girl Solaun finds new home with Apollon Ladies in Cyprus

Observer staff reporter

Sunday, September 13, 2020

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HAVING endured a frustrating period since the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic resulted in the termination of her contract with Paris FC, Reggae Girl Havana Solaun says she is eager to get back on the pitch with her new club, Apollon Ladies FC in Cyprus.

Solaun, who signed to Paris FC in January, saw the process surrounding paperwork among other things spiral out of control due to the pandemic, and as such, was unable to offer her services to the Division One team for the 2020-21 season, which started last week Saturday.

But as fate would have it, a one-year deal with Apollon Ladies came at an opportune time for Solaun, who was virtually at her wits' end having been away from competitive action since the Olympic Qualifiers earlier this year.

“Since qualifiers I have been training but COVID-19 created some complications with my plans to go play in France. I had the contract terminated and finding another team for the long term has been challenging. So, it was a little frustrating but I was just focusing on staying fit and ready,” Solaun told the Jamaica Observer.

“I simply treated COVID-19 the same as I would any other off season — training and preparing for whatever opportunities come next. I think COVID-19 slowed life down for many people and I would say it was the same for me. Fortunately, my agent found this club for me after my previous contract was affected,” she added prior to departing for Cyprus, the third-largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean.

The Reggae Girl midfielder, who was born in Hong Kong to a Cuban-American father and Jamaican mother, will be playing with Apollon Ladies for the duration of their Champions League run.

Apollon Ladies FC, established in 2007, are the leading club in the country, having won the Cypriot First Division 10 times and the Cypriot Cup, taking the double on nine consecutive occasions. They also won the Cypriot Super Cup seven times.

Apollon made headlines after beating two-time European champions Ume IK in their second Champions League appearance, which was regarded as one of the biggest surprises in European women's football.

Though progressing past the qualifying stage in the 2011–12, 2012–13 and the 2013–14 seasons, Apollon are yet to go beyond the Round of 32 — but the addition of Solaun and a few others could very well boost their chances of doing so this season.

Solaun, 27, who scored Jamaica's historic goal against Australia at last year's Fifa Women's World Cup in France, is well aware of the responsibility that comes with her new contract.

It is a responsibility that she embraces but she is also focused on her commitment to her body.

“It will be challenging coming into a new group of girls and a new style of play but fortunately, we have time before our first Champions League game to work together and find our team identity — and I hope to bring some experience to the team,” she said.

“I am taking the same steps that everyone does while in a professional environment. It is important to be training at a high level, but it is also equally important to make sure you are taking care of your body so that you can be fit to perform at the highest level,” Solaun shared.

That said, Apollon will need Solaun to be ready to go with a visit to Ermis Apollon in their Cypriot First Division opener today.

The 5'9” player is as deceptive as any midfielder comes and she is also very comfortable in possession, whether under pressure or not, and can keep control of the ball and move it in the way that her team requires.

“Signing with Apollon Ladies provides the perfect opportunity for me to get back into training with a team and get some games in, so I am looking forward to that,” Solaun noted.

“I'm mentally ready and physically, I have the right tools to play at a high level. So, my overall goal is to continue to put myself in challenging environments so that I can continue to grow as both a person and a player,” she ended.

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