Soccer Legend Shares Inspiring Message to Young Girls

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

By: Ashmar Mandou

As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to an end we happily place a spotlight on soccer legend Mónica González, a Texas native, who is leading an exemplary life by sharing insight on how to succeed in the world of soccer while developing a healthy sense of self-confidence through her foundation, Gonzo Soccer Academy. Officially an ESPN soccer commentator since 2011, González was a founding member in 1998 of the Mexican Women’s National team and helped lead the team in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup. González captained the team from 2003-2007, including the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. González is a former All-America and Academic All-America player at Notre Dame University. González is the founder of Gonzo Soccer, a not-for-profit soccer and leadership academy for girls aged 8-16 from underserved inner-city communities in Chicago and Houston. This week we caught up with González to talk about the importance of instilling confidence in young girls.

Lawndale Bilingual Newspaper: You are changing the lives of so many young girls across the country. How important is it for you to create programs, such as the Gonzo Soccer Academy to help girls interested in soccer?

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Mónica González: Youth soccer is becoming more and more expensive every day and many talented girls are denied the opportunity to participate, partly because of cost and partly because their parents are busy working overtimefor minimum-wage. It’s not that they do not come from loving homes, just more difficult to participate in extracurricular activities. At the same time, these are communities that have the highest percentages of dropouts, teen pregnancy, obesity–you name it. These girls have just as much potential as anyone else, and maybe even more to offer considering the strife they have already endured. I envision a society with more female leaders, from different backgrounds and cultures, and I believe that will be a world with less conflict and more compassion in the long run.

What do you enjoy most about meeting young girls in cities like Houston or in Chicago?

When I realize that it doesn’t matter where you come from, we are all the same. We all need to feel a sense of belonging; we all face difficult challenges and temptations no matter what city or what part of the city we come from. In the end, everyone must walk a difficult path to eventually gain lasting self-confidence and I enjoy utilizing soccer as a vehicle to take girls on that journey of self-discovery, which will ultimately lead them to reach their potential in life and more.

You have an amazing career, what advice would you like to give to young girls who hope to follow in your footsteps?

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Its cliché, but I have to say to follow your heart. Not everyone is passionate about soccer, but everyone is passionate about something, so I encourage girls to find what it is they love to do and at the same time think about what it is they are good at. If you combine those two things, you are sure to find a path in life that will keep you challenged and satisfied!

In Honor of Hispanic Heritage Month JCPenney Turns The Spotlight On Inspirational Partner Monica Gonzalez And Her Gonzo Soccer Academy For Girls

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