Florencia Galarza’s success story isn’t typical. That’s probably because there’s nothing typical about her. The soccer player-turned model/DJ-turned soccer star is the captain of an all-male team. “If you look in my closet, I have 20 pairs of cleats and 20 pairs of Chanel and Dior heels and that’s literally it,” she says. Miami-born Galarza has also recently been named a global ambassador for Adidas, along with other multi-faceted forces like Karlie Kloss, Candace Parker, and Hannah Bronfman. After a professional stint in Argentina, she’s back in the States, planning her next move.
How did your partnership with Adidas come to be?
About a year and a half ago, I started doing stuff with Adidas. They’d invite me to events, I’d run a 5k, do a cute shoot with them. Then they asked if I’d like to be exclusive as a global ambassador. I said yes. Totally amazing. I’ve done a lot with them, from running and soccer campaigns to DJing and hosting parties. What’s just come out is probably their biggest women’s campaign ever. It’s a dream come true to see myself running in a commercial on TV before the Super Bowl.
Have you always played soccer?
My entire life, since I was seven, I’ve played sports. I chose soccer ultimately. At the end of high school, I was supposed to continue into Division 1 college soccer and I got injured. It’s kind of difficult being a 17-year-old girl and making huge decisions. I was really emotional about it and cut it out cold-turkey. I moved to New York, went to FIT, did the whole “cool It-girl DJ” thing. I played for Kanye. I did modeling, walked for V-Files.
When I turned 28, I was like, ‘I’m an athlete. I’m dying to go back. I’m gonna figure this out.’ I decided to run the New York marathon with Christy Turlington’s charity. Once I turned 30, I started playing soccer with guys and I created the KITH FC team. It’s all guys and me, and of course I’m the captain of my own team. We’re playing a game and I have a pink captain band on with all dudes. It’s cool. If you’re the captain of the team, you just don’t take shit.
Do you think there’s still a stigma associated with being a woman in sports?
Oh, a thousand percent. Being a girl in general – we’re always struggling to be respected and have equal rights, equal pay. At first, I walk up to the field and it’s all guys who are like, ‘There’s a cute girl in cleats. She’s probably not a good player.’ That always happens. We start playing; they don’t really pass you the ball. I have to fight for that position to get the ball. The second I give them that hard tackle and steal the ball, they’re like, ‘Okay. Respect.’ And then they start playing with me!
To this day, it’s not welcoming. When you show up and turn out, after the game, they start asking you questions. Then eventually they ask you for your number. That’s how it is, in a sport or in real life.
Sports are a metaphor for life. Has there ever been a guy you wanted to give your number to?
Yes, and I got engaged to him. It was the reverse. I was like, ‘Do you want to play on my soccer team? Here, take my number and we’ll talk about it.’
Do you ever feel the need to put on a tougher persona?
You know, I only do that when I play against girls. It’s not that I put on a persona. I just go in extra-hard to shake them up a little in the beginning. With guys, you’ve got to let them have their moment in the beginning and then they’ll get over it.
Anything extreme ever happen on the field?
I was about 13 when I got into my first fight with a girl on a soccer field. I pushed the crap out of her and I got a red card, which is insane for a 13-year-old, and got kicked out of the game. Now most of the teams I’m on, I’m normally the captain so I have to keep it together.
What keeps you motivated?
The fact that I can still do this. Not only can I still do it, but you can do whatever you want to do. Our bodies are incredible. If you train, you can become an athlete. Keeping motivated means seeing that process and getting better, stronger, and fitter. Now that I’m 32, I’m in the best shape I’m ever been in and it’s also about defying that stereotype of age. Running circles around a 22-year-old is so dope.
Do you have a message for male soccer players or guys in general?
I’d want them to understand it’s not just a man’s sport. Women and men can coexist in this beautiful sport. It’s not about who’s better and faster and stronger. We all love the same game. We’re different at it, but we love the same damn sport.
What’s next for you?
Hopefully, next I’ll make the Argentinian National team and play the next World Cup and Olympics. Then I can really retire. I’m in it to win it, so I’m going all the way.