The 23-year-old Villa San Carlos striker won her first match against Lanus on Monday, seven points to one.
Mara Gomez, who is a striker for the Argentinian football club Villa San Carlos, on Monday became the first transgender woman to play football in the South American country, ESPN reports. The 23-year-old received the approval to play from the Argentina Football Association (AFA) and got off to a great start. Her team played against the football club Lanus in the Primera A tournament and won, seven points to one. Similarly, Gomez's presence in Argentinian football is a major win for trans people everywhere, particularly trans athletes. "A few years back this was unthinkable to talk about or debate but now we are opening new roads," she affirmed. "This is a huge achievement."
Yesterday Mara Gomez became Argentina’s first transgender footballer to play professionally in their top women’s division.— COPA90 (@Copa90) December 8, 2020
Here is her story 👇 pic.twitter.com/XDnrDVTQ3m
The football player continued in an interview with the sports news outlet, "When I started out, football was a therapy for me and I couldn't think it was possible to dream or consider playing in the top division. I'm totally grateful to my club, my teammates, and the coaching staff for opening the doors for me and for showing me respect from the beginning. I'm proud to represent a community but also a part of society and to know that I have become a reference for a lot of people." She also thanked the AFA which took the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on inclusion in stride, permitting her to play professionally.
Día histórico para el fútbol argentino. Mara Gómez debutó en Villa San Carlos y se convirtió en la primera jugadora trans del futbol argentino.— El tarambana republicano (@la_tarambana) December 8, 2020
A pesar de los retrógradas, el mundo avanza !#maragomez #Argentina pic.twitter.com/wJN46foPGZ
Despite their loss, the football club Lanus paid tribute to Gomez in their own special way as a recognition of her momentous accomplishment. They presented her with her own club jersey to commemorate the occasion and wrote, "We celebrate and accompany this enormous step on the road to expanding rights. Congratulations Mara Gomez." Now that is what you call the spirit of the game. Lanus were not the only folks to celebrate her inaugural football game.
🇦🇷 El passat cap de setmana Mara Gómez va debutar amb el Villa San Carlos contra Lanús, convertint-se en la primera jugadora trans de la primera divisió argentina.— Jordi Campa 🎗️ (@jordicampag) December 7, 2020
Al final del partit va rebre un reconeixement del Lanús pel llarg camí recorregut abans que arribés aquest dia. pic.twitter.com/jBigcfivUI
A flurry of congratulatory messages was posted on various social media platforms in her support. She too took to social media to respond to all the messages. "It wasn't magic, it wasn't a gift, it wasn't easy," she wrote. "There was a life of fighting, suffering, and sadness. There was a life on the edge of death and a broken heart. Many obstacles had to be overcome to revert to the past...This has only just begun. Today I breathe, today my soul returns to my body." There is nothing more heartwarming than a person who finally gets to be themselves after a lifetime of challenges.
#EFEFotos | ¡Historia del fútbol femenino!— EFE Deportes (@EFEdeportes) December 7, 2020
⚽️ Mara Gómez, primera argentina transgénero que podrá jugar en la Liga femenina.
👏 La delantera del equipo Villa San Carlos, recibió este viernes la autorización de la AFA.
📸 Demian Alday Estévez
⚫️ #EFEFem pic.twitter.com/3rFhvvhu6o
As she tried to overcome these obstacles, Gomez explained, football "came to her rescue." The football player shared, "Football came to my life at a time when I needed it. It came at a time when I was struggling psychologically because of discrimination, exclusion, and I saw it as a therapy. I realized that football could be a style of life for me." And aren't we glad that it did! Her story serves as a reminder to all that inclusion is possible if we listen with intention, empathize, and act.