Hulda Ramos has been playing soccer since she was 12 years old in a community in northern Nicaragua, and through it, she learned to plan her life and dream of becoming a professional in a sport with very little female participation in this Central American country.
“My dream has always been to pursue a bachelor’s degree in English, and I would like to be a professional football player or a referee, not only to get to know cultures here in Nicaragua but also to go to other places and experience the passion that I have inside me and in my blood, which is soccer,” says Ramos, a 19-year-old during the local tournament “Mundial de Fútbol de Las Chavalas de La League” (World Cup of Girls of La League).
“Today I can say that I am a leader, that I can lead with my life, and that I can be an empowered girl and avoid early pregnancy,” added Ramos, who, in addition to practicing the sport she is passionate about, is studying her third year of a bachelor’s degree in English at a university in the country.
The “La League” project, created in 2017 by the Johan Cruyff Foundation and Women Win with funds from UEFA, promotes the participation of girls and young women through soccer to strengthen their autonomy in making decisions that affect their lives, especially to transform gender norms and create awareness about sexual and reproductive health and rights.
“We want to change the lives of girls to open up sports spaces for them as well: sports are important for mental and physical health (…), also to promote leadership, sisterhood, working together, and sports help,” says Johanna Langbroek, the director of the humanitarian organization Plan International, which drives the project.
The program involves 300 “chavalas” between the ages of 12 and 24 from 20 rural communities in five territories of Nicaragua, such as Madriz, Chinandega, Chontales, San Rafael del Sur, and the Autonomous Region of the Northern Caribbean. Part of this group participated with other young women in the tournament in Managua, which also included training from Dutch midfielder Nadine Noordam.
Noordam, a 24-year-old player for Ajax in the women’s Eredivisie, expressed her satisfaction in sharing her experience with the girls so they can learn and face their future.
On the other hand, 23-year-old Daniela García assures that soccer changed her life “because I became a leader, learned soccer techniques, and also skills I didn’t know before, such as leadership.”
At the end of the tournament, the shouts of joy from Ramos and her team were evident as they lifted one of the trophies.
The Nicaraguan young women participated in the tournament to promote women’s soccer, just a few days before the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, from July 20th to August 20th.