Island footballers pay tribute to 'super smiley' Sylvia

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WOMEN’S football fixtures will not go ahead as planned this weekend as Jersey’s football community takes time to remember Sylvia Spinola, who passed away this week at the age of just 34.

Players and coaches past and present have paid tribute to the ‘smiley’ 2015 Island Games gold medallist – a key figure at St Lawrence FC as women’s team captain and an academy coach, and a stalwart for Jersey’s representative side.

Spinola, who made her Muratti debut in 2013, played for her club at the start of the 2021/22 season before stepping away from the game through illness. She completed the Manchester Marathon for Mind Jersey in October 2021 and the Jersey Race for Life, in aid of Cancer Research UK, in May 2022 while still undergoing treatment.

Ivan Freitas, St Lawrence Women manager, confirmed their Zenith Cup group-stage opener against Jersey Wanderers will not go ahead tomorrow.

‘When I took over as manager last year no other person crossed my mind to be our club captain,’ he said. ‘Everyone gravitated towards Sylv. She was always super smiley and if we ever had new girls join she was always the first point of contact. They would always be in safe hands.

‘Outside of football she was a lovely human being and even when she became ill she was still involved with the club. She was still the person I would talk to about line-ups and ideas for games and she effectively became my assistant, even though she couldn’t always go to the games.

‘This is a huge hit for the whole of Jersey’s women’s football community.

‘We were due to start last weekend but that was postponed for the Queen, and we have asked for this weekend to be postponed as well, even though Sylv would have told us to play. They were not just colleagues on the football pitch … the majority of the girls have been friends with her for 18 years. None of the girls are in the right frame of mind to play. They’ve lost a huge part of their lives and the Jersey Wanderers girls have too, because most of them knew her from the Island team.’

Simon Petulla, Spinola’s team manager during the historic Island Games campaign in 2015, said: ‘I am really shocked and gutted to hear the tragic news about Sylvia. She was such a lovely and dedicated person who always had a big smile on her face. She was so kind hearted and would do anything for anyone.

‘She was an important part of the squad for me when I was manager of the women’s Island side. She was so dedicated and turned up to every training session and always gave 100%.

‘My thoughts go out to her family and friends. We all will miss her very much.’

St Lawrence Academy director Luca Caviglione added: ‘Sylvia was a committed coach from the very beginning, and eager to see all the girls grow and achieve their full potential.

‘They have also lost a mentor and leader that they could follow, all the way to the senior team. She will be a big miss for our academy.’

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