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The Iso: Diego Valeri

May 14 2020
Photo by
Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images
Photo by
Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images
Diego Valeri
Portland Timbers
May 14 2020

The Players’ Tribune is introducing a new series called The Iso. With so many of us keeping our distance from each other in a variety of ways, we decided to ask some of our favorite athletes to share how they’ve been dealing with life in the Covid-19 world, and how they’re spending their time away from their sport.


I’m in Portland. At home, in quarantine.

The mental state is a little bit of a fight in these times. I think maybe a lot of people can relate to this, especially in the beginning.

A lot can change from one moment to the next. Maybe the real impact of this time has been facing that. The constant ambiguity has created an unstable environment where we’ve been forced to reevaluate all we thought we knew — rethinking certain things about the system, of how one lives, of how society lives, and a natural fear about each of those things.

Anyways, we have to stand in front of it. During this time, it is necessary to evaluate the values with which we are creating our world. We live on the surface too much and this is a good moment to look at the roots. What has value in our life?

More than ever, it is time to embrace our loved ones. We find ourselves spending a lot more time together, watching out for one another’s low moods so that we can cheer each other up on the harder days. We are also in touch with our family in Argentina, video chatting as much as we can.

There are some heavy days. So, in terms of that, I try to strengthen myself by finding some mental stability. I realize that love is the most powerful motivation we have in our hands. And then, on the professional side, goal-setting has improved my mindset. I’m taking more time to strengthen certain aspects of my game and growing my knowledge about the beautiful game. I also try to train twice a day.

The first couple of days marked an unusual rhythm but the quarantine started to extend and the routine, including reading, playing guitar and singing with my daughter, has been essential to ease the feeling of isolation. Every day, we share small details and the emotions that are generated by this situation. I am very grateful to have them by my side.

Connie is 11 years old. She’s going through this doing her online school every morning, which helps her to stay connected with her friends as well. It’s been very edifying for her. She also takes piano and voice video classes that keeps her in a creative atmosphere. This helps us maintain a certain schedule, which is always good, especially for an athlete. I structure my workouts and rest time around her study schedule.

Courtesy of Diego Valeri

We talk about everything with Connie. She’s aware of what’s going on with the virus and the international crisis. We only have one daughter, so that also makes it a bit more — I don’t know if I should say easy, but everything falls on us three. The usual questions are, “Why is this or that happening? Why is society doing a certain thing? And how are we going to come out of this at some point?”

We try to teach her by example how to be prepared to face life. Living through this hard time, our world’s youth will have perspective on many things that maybe our generation took for granted, like the importance of a strong health care system, the right of all to access to it, a less competitive but more complementary working world, how the wealth generated from work is distributed and even what it means to be human.

This has been a wake-up call about our human obligations to one another. You should lend a hand if you’re able. According to your situation, there is always a place for an act of solidarity. Acts of goodness have no limits but they shape our environment. Our family is committed to contributing as much as we can to it.

Even as restrictions ease, we still have an obligation to take precautions to contain the spread. That means following those steps with conscience, with the awareness that it’s not just something that can happen to you, but you can pass it on to someone else. Honestly, it’s hard to isolate ourselves, but we have to. It’s the best we can do to prevent this disease. There’s no other way to minimize, at least for now, the contagion curve, so, if it’s possible we have to do it.

Fortunately, the city of Portland is a place where people look after each other. A city in which the community is important. In these times you realize the relevance of that way of seeing life, where we cannot be happy if our neighbor isn’t happy. Where we have to seek justice on behalf of those who can’t, where we have to seek to strengthen our community from the bottom up. I humbly believe that’s our best way forward.

Diego Valeri
Portland Timbers