From Iceland — Side Hustle Of The Issue: The Football Player

Side Hustle Of The Issue: The Football Player

Published February 14, 2024

Side Hustle Of The Issue: The Football Player
Photo by
Joana Fontinha

Heiða’s daily grind for the love of the game

Heiða Ragney Viðarsdóttir can’t imagine her life without football. A project manager by day and a defensive mid at night, it’s ambition and a drive to compete that motivate Heiða. We caught up with her in a week when she transitioned from Stjarnan football club, where she had been for three years, to the more highly ranked Breiðablik. Here’s how the athlete manages a daytime career while sticking to intense sports routines. 

Heiða Ragney Viðarsdóttir, 28, a project manager

I work at the Institute of International Affairs at the University of Iceland. That’s my main job. But I’ve been playing football since I was six. I’ve been playing throughout school, then I went to America to get my bachelor’s degree and when I moved back football was always on the side. It didn’t start paying until I got older. Since the Icelandic league is semi-pro, many players aren’t paid anything. More recently, players are basically getting pocket money.

If you go further down the leagues, the less likely it is for you to get any money out of it. I’m in the top league, so I’m pretty lucky that I’m actually getting paid. It helps that I’m getting money, but I’d still be playing even if I weren’t getting anything. It’s so different for the women’s and men’s leagues because some of the men’s teams pay so much that the boys don’t do anything else. I could never survive with just what I get out of football. It doesn’t even pay my rent.

Work, play, repeat

Being in school and playing football was a lot easier. You can control your time so much. If I was tired and wanted to sleep in, I would. But now, I work nine to four and I have to plan my whole day out. I have to put all my football clothes in a bag, take the stuff I need for work and plan my meals throughout the day. I leave the house at nine and usually don’t come home until around 19:30-20:00. I go straight to practice after work. That’s my life. 

“I don’t know when the last time I went on a holiday in the summer was because we play all summer.”

I have practice at least five times a week. During the season, we have games once or twice a week, and then sometimes you have to travel for it. You’re very restricted. You can’t just go away whenever you want. 

I’m really lucky with my job because they’re flexible. It is demanding, but it actually hits when we’re off-season. When I’m the busiest and I have to work from eight to eight, it’s not football season. But when I apply for a job, I have to say, “Listen, I have this responsibility. I have to make it to these games and skip a few days from work.”

For the love of kicks

The best thing about my side hustle is playing the sport I love. I get to see my friends every day. Not everyone can go somewhere and see people they like every single day. The negative part is obviously, you’re really restricted. You have to sacrifice a lot of things. I’ve missed out on social gatherings with school or work. You have to kind of pick and choose. I don’t know when the last time I went on a holiday in the summer was because we play all summer.

Last year, my team played in the Champions League, so we went to Holland for a week and played against two really good teams. A girl who played against us is now being bought by Chelsea for the highest amount Chelsea ever paid for a women’s player. It’s crazy that we’re playing in this semi-pro league and we got to play against some of the best players in the world.

Love it or quit it?

I have a lot of friends who quit playing years ago; I’ve struggled with it myself because this is taking so much of my time. You have to love it if you’re doing it. People are very brave when they decide to quit a sport and pursue something else they want. Because you’re so embedded in this, a lot of the time, it takes courage to actually quit. This takes so much of your time that it’s not worth it if you don’t enjoy it.

I am very competitive and enjoy challenging myself. If football is not providing that for me, I shouldn’t really be doing it. I could never do football just for fun in the division below. Not everyone feels this way, but I guess I’m too competitive.

Want to share how you’re making ends meet? Email us at grapevine@grapevine.is with the subject line “Side Hustle.” We’ll happily keep your identity anonymous.


Follow along with the Side Hustle series right here.

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