Uploaded Ad
article image
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Natasha Anasi
Q&A with Duke Alumna Natasha Anasi
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 10/14/2015
BDN+ Premium Content
Related Links
By Ryan Neu, Duke Sports Information

Duke alumna Natasha Anasi graduated from Duke in May of 2014 and signed to play professionally in Iceland.  She recently completed her second season with IBV of Iceland.  Anasi, who is a native of Arlington, Texas, was a two-time All-America with the Blue Devils.  She was on campus recently and stopped by to visit with  

How long have you been playing in Iceland now?
“When I left the states immediately, I left in July and played three months there and then I returned to play a full season from March to September in 2015.”

What is it like playing professionally?
“I still can’t even wrap my brain around the fact that I am a professional soccer player.  It’s always weird and it takes me a little bit to be like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s my job.  I play soccer as my job.’  But it’s awesome.  I did a lot more stuff during the full season that I was there, coaching and helping out with the community, but I really enjoyed it.  You play and I have a decent amount of free time so I can’t really complain.”

What are some of the biggest differences between playing collegiately and playing professionally?
“I would say that it’s almost a difference in style.  In the states, especially in the college game, it’s a lot about athleticism.  There are a ton of athletes who are playing.  We’re lucky in the ACC that we have players who are also very technically gifted but where I am in Iceland it’s definitely about your technical ability.  That’s the number one thing.”

Are the fans different over there?
“They can be a little bit more ruthless.  But for the most part they’re probably the same.”

How did playing at Duke help you to prepare for playing abroad?
“The ACC is one of the top conferences so having that experience and playing very competitive games day in and day out really prepared me for the next level.”

What are some of the places you’ve traveled to play so far?
“We were mostly traveling within Iceland but we also do a preseason trip to Spain so we played a couple of games out there in Spain.”

How was that?
“That was good.  It was good competition.  It was nice because Iceland doesn’t get much sun.  So it was nice to get away and have some warm weather, train there and get a different environment.”

Did you speak any Icelandic before you went over there?
“No, I would say that I know enough to communicate on the field with other players but it’s a very tough language so it’s going to take me some time before I can be really fluent in it.”

How forgiving is their English?
“Almost all of them speak pretty good English.  It’s kind of one of the things they have to learn in school and it’s big because if they’re moving out of Iceland, then they’re going to have to learn another language and English is the big one to learn.”

How many other non-Icelandic players are there on the team?
“Two other players.  There is one who is from Jamaica but went to high school in the states and a Canadian girl who attended the University of Iowa, so she played collegiately in the states.”

Did you find that you connected with them a little bit quicker because you were all thrown into the same situation?
“Yeah, that’s definitely the case.  The Jamaican is a bit older than we are — she’s almost 30 — but the Canadian and I, we just bonded because we're spending a lot of time together and we’re figuring it out at the same time.”

Is it tough being away from your friends and family back in the states?
“It definitely can be hard.  When I first went my boyfriend was with me and I could lean on him for that time but going back for the full season being by myself it gets kind of tough and you start to think that since you’re so far away you’re missing everything back home but then you realize that everyone’s in the same boat.”

You said you have a decent amount of free time.  Have you had a chance to go explore the country?
“Earlier on before the season was heavy and in full force, I went with one of my Icelandic teammates.  We’re on an island that’s right off the southern coast and she lives right on the other side kind of still in the country on a farm, so she took us to her farm and then we took a mini road trip.  We went and saw this really awesome natural pool and went to Blue Lagoon, it’s a really awesome place if you ever go to Iceland, and just visited a bunch of little hiking spots in between and it was fantastic.  It’s such a beautiful country.”

How’s the food?
“The food is okay.  I wouldn’t say that I’m a fan of the traditional Icelandic cuisine like shark and things like that but I tried shark.  It was not good.  I tried puffin, which is also really big there, and I actually really liked that.  For the most part they have a bunch of different things like a lot of American-style food and all different thing.  A funny thing is, the Cool Ranch Doritos?  They call them ‘American-flavored’ Doritos.”

Is there anything culturally about the people or the place that you find really striking compared to what you grew up with?
“The people are really, really nice people.  They’re really kind.  But here in the states on the street, or maybe mostly in the South, but you walk out and you see someone and you say, ‘Hey! How are you?’ Even if you didn’t really know them, and they’ll say ‘Oh, good.’  That’s really weird to them and makes them feel uncomfortable.  Also, they’re a bit more reserved but they’re really, really kind people.”

And you grew up in Arlington, Texas.  What is it like living in a country that has a smaller population than the city that you’re from?
“It’s unbelievable.  Everybody knows everyone and that’s what is so shocking that everyone knows everyone in the country.  On the island, they know everything about you before you even have had a full conversation with them about anything.  It was a shock.  You do start to feel like there isn’t that many people here.  The first time I was there and then I left Iceland to go to London and even just walking into the airport was crazy.  Too many people, overload.  It’s a small place.”

Overall, you’ve liked it, though?
“I’ve really liked.  I’ll be back.”