As part of our series looking behind the scenes at the NFS, we’re excited to bring you the latest Player Spotlight interview with Women’s Super Series (WSS) star Divina Alo Ilolo. Check out Divina’s experience of the NFS so far; why she prefers futsal to football, and how she overcomes asthma as a NFS player!

Let’s kick off, Divina. Tell us your name and club!
Hi! I’m Divina Alo Ilolo and I play for Southampton Aztecs!

Tell us about yourself off the pitch, Divina.
Off the pitch I am not only a bubbly, motivated person who is a rugby coach but I am a ‘fashionista’ as some may say! I am also a very active person, whether that would be going down to the basketball courts and shooting some hoops or doing some cycling: I am always keeping myself active. Furthermore, I sleep eat and live on music. There are no words to explain how much I love music and dancing. As a kid I was always told that my headphones would get confiscated in the house and in school!

Fantastic! What made you decide to get into futsal?
The cold!! I’ve been living here for 20 or so years and still can’t get used to the cold. That’s why I love futsal because it’s indoors and the weather can never affect the game. Additionally, I got into playing futsal because it gave me freedom while on the court and for the rolling subs. It reminds me of playing street football in the cage at the park. That was fun and I live for enjoyment.

Tough question coming up – futsal or football?
For many years its been football but now I would confidently say futsal. You can love both – I still watch football and play it occasionally as that is what I grew up on and they are completely different games.

We agree! Reflecting on your NFS experience, what’s been the most challenging aspect of playing futsal for you?
I think it may be playing with asthma because it restricts my ability. I start to lack in performance when my asthma kicks in which is so frustrating since I’m always keeping my fitness in check and taking measures to prevent it holding me back. The hard truth is that there is only so much I can do to control it. Luckily, coming in and out of the court comes in handy for me to be able to regain my breathing.

Has there been a standout moment in your futsal career so far?
I think it was the match that was televised because it felt like a completely different atmosphere. From the way we came out onto the court, to the surface we played on. It felt so good not to be seeing different lines on the floor while playing; and I SCORED MY FIRST GOAL!!!

We can’t wait to see you back on the BT Sport screens! Looking back, would you have any advice for anyone interested in getting involved in futsal?
It’s a great game. Not only for fitness but it will better your skills on and off the ball because of the pace of the game. It’s also growing in women’s sports so you will be part of something bigger than yourself.

Totally agree. And finally, sitting here as a NFS star – what would you say to your younger self?
Always stay positive no matter the circumstances; compete with no one but yourself and smile.

Great advice. Thanks very much, Divina, for giving your time and providing our readers with unique insight as to what it’s like to play in the NFS! All the best for 2022.

Keep an eye out as our Inside NFS series continues – and make sure to join us for our next NFS weekend live on BT Sport on 29th and 30th January 2022!