Mariafe Artacho del Solar
“believe in what you want and go for it”
Mariafe Artacho del Solar
Country of Origin: Peru
Occupation: Athlete. State of Residency: SA. Favourite place in Australia: The beach. Upon arrival: Surprised by everything being so clean, the traffic being so organised and there was so much order.
By Trini Abascal
Mariafe is a full-time beach volleyball athlete. She is an U23 World Champion and a Rio 2016 Olympian. She joined forces with Taliqua Clancy in October 2017 and have been competing on the International circuit since then. During the 2018 Commonwealth Games, they won their preliminary pool matches without losing a set. They are currently ranked 6th in the World and aiming to be on top of the podium in Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Tell us your story
Mum and I arrived in Australia on the 15th of December 2004. I was eleven years old. We decided to move here for a better lifestyle and also because there were a lot more sporting opportunities and support for me here than in Peru. I came to Australia speaking zero English, mum had only $1000 in her pocket and we had to start from zero. It was definitely very challenging for my mum at the age of 50 with an 11-year-old to start all over again. My Aunty and uncle welcomed us with open arms into their home and was a huge support for us. My brother also helped us a lot as he was already living here for a few years prior to us coming. Mum started working at a small local cafe and I began Year Six a month after arriving. I never actually felt fear, even though I couldn’t speak a word of English (now almost speaking better English than Spanish), I adapted pretty quick and for me sport was a great way of communicating. Since I was a kid, I was very good at sports in general. Following my sister steps, I started playing volleyball while living in Peru and I was very good at it. When I arrived in Australia, my brother registered me to play socially with him and his friends beach volleyball in Manly. That year we won the championship and since then I loved the sport. In 2012 I was offered a scholarship from Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) as a full-time athlete. So, after graduated from high school I decided to move on my own to Adelaide (the beach volleyball program is based there) at the age of 18 to follow my dream of becoming an Olympic Champion. In 2014 I played u23 world champs and in 2016 Rio Olympics with my former volleyball partner. In October 2017, Taliqua and I teamed up and we have been competing on the International circuit since then. We are aiming to be on the podium in Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
My journey so far has been amazing! Since arriving in Australia my god I’ve been through so much! Just like everyone goes through their own challenges I’ve gone through mine and it’s made me so much stronger, so much more confident, I’ve grown, all the experiences I’ve gone through has not only made me a better player but also a better person which I’m so grateful for. I’m so lucky to have my family and amazing people in my life that support me and guide me. I’ve now been in Adelaide for nearly 7 years and my job is to travel the world competing week to week in a different country from around April to September. I’m excited for what’s to come, It’s only the beginning!
Staring from zero - When we arrived, we had limited money and Mum had to work in the local café. She also helped my aunty to start her chocolate business (tejas del solar) and worked for her for 10 years. I had also to start all over again when I moved to Adelaide by myself. I cry a lot at the beginning of her move but my mum helped me through it. Mum and I have always been a team and we’ve helped each other so much during all those years. She’s taught me so much and made me a strong independent woman. She still is always by my side even though she’s 10,000 miles away in Peru. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of loved ones.
Sport stereotypes - At the beginning I had to deal with many challenges. I was told that I was too short (173 cm) to make it as a professional athlete. I wasn’t always the first pick because of my height, but I’ve always played with passion and I’ve learnt to fight for what I want, my goals and dreams. With dedication, commitment, faith and believing in myself I’ve overcome many challenges.
Respect for others - There’s a huge difference in cultures between Peru and Australia. Australians are a lot more relaxed and show more respect to each other.
Appreciation of the country - Australia is a lot more advanced so it’s hard to compare but I hope one day Peru and its people learn about respect and appreciation for their country. It’s a beautiful part of the planet with so much to offer!
Support - In Australia, the support provided to athletes is very good. In Peru the support is limited. That was one of the reasons we moved to Australia.
Piece of advice
Go for it - Be eager to learn, make mistakes and keep going. Stay open minded with a growth mindset and explore, get out of your comfort zone, believe in what you want and go for it!
Enjoy the journey - I am a true believer that the most important part of whatever you choose to do, is to have fun and enjoy the journey.
Mariafe and her fiancé
In the next years…
Mariafe would like to see herself with lots of medals and titles around her neck. She is engaged and looking forward to getting married in 2020. She sees herself with 3-4 kids in 10 years’ time in a healthy happy family. She would love to open her own business of beach volleyball clinics around Australia and sharing her story with young kids as well as the public and inspire them to go for their dreams.