Ali Salvador: Bringing South American flair to NTU

Alexandra Salvador, the NTU Alumni making headlines in the South American women’s football world.

For many, representing your country in the world’s most popular sport is something most dream about as kids, but for NTU alumni Alexandra Salvador that dream came true at a very early age.

Alexandra, or more fondly known by her peers as Ali, is a Canadian national with Ecuadorian heritage. At the age of just 20 had the privilege of representing Ecuador at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

However, it was not all plain sailing for Ali as she had to work hard to achieve what she’s accomplished, and it truly is a fascinating story.

For the 25-year-old, football was very much a passionate family affair growing up, her father represented the Ecuadorian national team back in his day – this is a family with football running through their veins.

“My parents were always supportive of my ambitions and interests, and even though my father played the sport himself I never felt pressured into participating or going for practices,” said Ali.

She added that growing up in Ontario, Canada she was privileged enough to try her hand at a range of sports including snowboarding and athletics. But, it was football that she naturally gravitated towards.

She showed exceptional promise at an early age, supported by her coaches and most importantly her family she pursued her football career which ultimately led to her being selected to represent the Ecuadorian national team in the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada.

But before this prestigious call-up to represent the Ecuador senior side, she first represented their Under 20s in 2014, where she captained the team that finished third in the South America’s Cup.

At the 2014 Copa América Femenina that was hosted in Ecuador and Ali lead her team to some outstanding victories.

Ali remembered one match in particular, “the game against Trinidad and Tobago was an especially memorable one as this was the match we won to award us third place in the tournament.”

“After all the blood sweat and tears, we’d put into doing what we love it was a truly special moment for me and my team, and after this tournament I received the call up to the national team.”

It was a moment of pride and joy for Ali like it is for any athlete who gets the opportunity to represent their country, and this was doubly special as it was FIFA World Cup.

“It was a great experience for me and a moment in my life I will never forget.”

Since then, Ali went on to complete her undergraduate degree in the USA and chose to attend Nottingham Trent University for her post-graduate studies to complete her Masters in Exercise Physiology and Sports Science.

During her time in the UK, she represented the NTU women’s football team in the BUCS championship in 2019.

Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 much of the season was cut short. But of the games that remained in the season, Ali played in five BUCS matches where she helped her team win each game.

“She was a very versatile player and performed exceptionally well in any position she was asked to play,” Daniel Corlett, coach of the Women’s first team, said.

“Ali always had that laser focus and was very mature and level-headed. She would always put the long-term ahead of the short-term, I remember for her first away league game against the University of Liverpool she was recovering from an injury to her leg. Our team were running away with the game 10-1, and when she was asked whether she wanted to get out on the pitch, she told me she’d rather rest a little longer and come out stronger for the next game where NTU would have faced a tougher opponent.”

Corlett also mentioned that Ali was a very humble sportsman as well as a responsible and supportive team player.

Ali practising her skills

“None of her team-mates knew that she’d represented the Ecuadorean National Team in the Women’s World Cup until it was accidently revealed by an official, she had no ego and didn’t think she was better than anyone else and therefore, was loved by everyone of her fellow team members.”

Ali said that she enjoyed her experience at Trent too saying that she felt right at home amongst her friends and that everyone she met was very supportive and welcoming of her.

2019 saw the NTU women’s football team crowned champions of the BUCS league for the second time running and they did so in style, by remaining invincible. 

Ali graduated from NTU in 2020 and is presently in talks with Nottingham Forest where she’s already signed a contract with the team and hopefully once the country opens again, she will return to Nottingham to play for them. 

But for the moment she still represents her Ecuadorian heritage, she expects the tournaments and matches to recommence in April with the first game against Colombia.

She’s also keeping fit by taking part in training camps and sticking to daily routines in both Ecuador and in her home country of Canada.

We wish Ali all the best in her endeavours and hope to see her playing for Nottingham Forest in the near future.

By Randev Jayasinha

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