HAWKESBURY City Football Club’s Santiago Pallares is a long way from Uruguay, but feels at home thanks to the universal language of football.
Pallares has joined Hawkesbury City for one season, and comes with some uncommon experience for a Hawkesbury player.
Pallares played for Uruguay’s under-15 team and also played professionally for a number of years in Uruguay for a team called Miramar Misiones in Pallares’ home town of Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital.
The 23-year-old is tall and speaks reasonably good English, although it is laced with a thick South America accent.
He lives at Bondi, but plans to move out to the Hawkesbury during the year, and after the football season, do some travelling across Australia to see the sights.
Striker is his position, and he has already scored three goals for City in four games in both the FFA Cup and Football NSW’s NPL 3 tournament.
He said Australian football was very different to how it is played in South America.
“This is totally different. It is more physical than technical,” he said.
“There is lots of running and defenders get to you all the time and I am still getting used to it.”
Pallares has also started coaching some of the younger Hawkesbury teams, something he said he was really enjoying.
“I have done a little bit of coaching in Uruguay. I did some in my hometown school. English is hard for me but I enjoy coaching,” he said.
The challenge of communicating to younger children, when English is not his first language has a simple answer according to Pallares.
“I have a hard time talking to the kids but football is a universal language,” he said.
“We understand each other even though my English is not the best.
“I love it. It is a fun time for me. I coach and then practice so I get a full day of football sometimes.”
Pallares said he liked his team mates at City.
“When I arrived, I could see it was a cool group of people. They all get along with each other,” he said.
His coach, Dean Bertenshaw, said it was great having Pallares at the club as an example of what players can achieve if they work hard.
“It is great for the local area to have professional players like him around,” he said.
“He has fitted in very well and it doesn’t always go like that when you get a player from overseas.”
Pallares said his favourite team back home was Nacional, based in Montevideo.
“I like Nacional. It is one of the big clubs. They just had their derby against Peñarol another club from Montevideo, and they drew 1-1,” he said.
Pallares and City will have their first home game at Bensons Lane this weekend in the NPL 3 competition, thanks to rain over the past few weeks.
The club’s FFA Cup season is over, thanks to a 2-1 loss to underdogs Nepean last Wednesday night, with Pallares scoring City’s goal.
The club will host the Western NSW Mariners from 5.30pm on Saturday.