Carmen Lopez Villamil is a sophomore from Brooklyn who recently just joined City in the Community’s Youth Leadership Council. On International Women’s Day, she’s here to share her story as a young woman in soccer.
Soccer has played a really important role in life. Growing up, making friends, mental health. I think that it has the power to bring people together and change lives so I wanted to be able to provide that to communities that don’t have access to it. Being a Youth Leader gives me the training and the resources to help others learn how to play soccer and continue with it.
I hope that as a young leader, I can make peoples lives better. If I can teach them how to play soccer, or even just host a few sessions where they can meet new people and become a little happier. Throughout elementary school, I was depressed. I have gone through these spurts of depression and mental health issues, but consistently throughout soccer seasons when I’m playing and have the support of and interaction with a team it has always made me happier and able to cope whatever life brings. Soccer makes it better. Especially for people who don’t have access to therapy or are unable to identify their own depression because it’s not talked about in their own community, soccer is a way to make them just a little bit happier.
I believe that through soccer we have the ability to create social change. If you tell a kid that soccer is an opportunity for them, it is not only empowering but it gives them the resources to identify problems in their community and make change. If I can teach kids how to play soccer, empower them, and make them happier, I hope that they’ll be able to change the world.
I’ve benefitted from soccer programs in my own community. They’ve made me a lot happier. They’ve made me realized the inequality that surrounds soccer itself, and it has helped many people in my own community so I want to be a part of that change. Soccer is a male-dominated sport. Especially in New York where a lot of the academies are geared towards boys and men. Although it’s a cliche, it’s still relevant that girls are told that they can’t play sports. Empowering girls to play soccer, and then to continue with soccer especially girls who don’t have access to it because of financial or social situations, I think that involving them in the soccer community has the power to change their lives. If you integrate people of color, or women, it creates a more powerful group that spreads across the entire globe and a group that’s more willing to address to issues that we’re facing right now and through teaching them soccer you give them the tools to do that.