She is a big presence on the field at 5’7″, making powerful runs up and down the field all game long.
She is the most-capped player on the Norwegian National Team with 139 international appearances that include three World Cups (1999, 2003, and 2007,) two Olympic games (2000, and 2008,) and three UEFA Women’s Euro tournaments (2001, 2005, 2009.)
She has also won a Gold Medal with Norway in the 2000 Olympics after defeating the USA in the championship match.
But that’s just one side of Gulbrandsen.
The daughter of former Norwegian soccer player Terje Gulbrandsen and former Norwegian champion in Rhythmic Gymnastics Inger Elise Gulbrandsen, Solveig is Espen Andreassen’s wife, and the mother of Theodor, who will be four-years-old on June 8.
A soccer player’s life can be very hectic with training sessions, team meetings, and games to compete in all year long.
For all this, they have to make big sacrifices, such as not being at home often, missing valuable time with their families, or even starting a family. That is why most female soccer players that want to have babies often think about what time of the year, or what year they want to step off the field to become a mom.
Gulbrandsen decided to get pregnant after the 2005 UEFA Women’s Euro tournament, which took place in June.
In 2006, there were no big tournaments besides World Cup qualifying, so that was a good year to have a baby. “Yes, this was a planned pregnancy,” she said. “I wanted to still play soccer, so it was best to do it the year that there where not any big tournaments for the national team.”
It took her two months after the birth of her child, to get back on the field. “But it took some time before I felt my body was the same again. I lost a lot of speed and muscle (during the pregnancy,)” she added.
Sometimes, after players have babies and they come back to play soccer again, their bodies don’t respond the way they used to, and it becomes difficult for the player to play at her fullest potential again. Gulbrandsen is, fortunately, not one of those players.
“I feel I’m back again, but I am becoming one of the more senior players in the game. I have played at the international level since I was 17, so I’m starting to incur a lot of little injuries I’m not used too, but I feel I still have a lot to contribute.”
“When I’m on the field, I’m a soccer player, and Theodor knows that. But outside of that, I’m a mother first. I love to take care of my son,” said Gulbrandsen about balancing being a mom during a tournament, or training camps. “When I was younger, I thought it was a crisis if I didn’t get enough sleep before a game, or [ate] the right food. But now I know that you can perform no matter what, if your mind is up for it.”
Her husband and son are living in the Bay Area (California) with her while she plays for FC Gold Pride. “We have kept very busy here, so we have no time to miss Norway. We really like it here.”
Gulbrandsen loves the fact that she can be a true soccer mom, and even though it can be hard at times, having a child is very rewarding.
“I think having a child gives you something else to focus on, not just soccer, and that is good. He loves me even if I don’t score or play a minute in the game. I think for the team it’s good to have children around. It gets everyone in a good mood. The disadvantage is I might not be as social as the younger girls,” she said.
With a very demanding job, and a schedule that is sometimes tentative, Gulbrandsen is making it work. “To be a mom doesn’t have to prevent you from reaching your goals in life.”
Solveig Gulbrandsen will step on the field again on Friday, May 14 against the Boston Breakers at Harvard Stadium at 7:30 pm ET. The next home game for FC Gold Pride is on June 5th against the Washington Freedom.