Leading the Way

Jeaney Martinez

Girl Participant at South Bronx United in New York City, age 17

“As a young lady who plays soccer in New York City, you would think it’s kind of odd because not many girls play soccer in the city. In my 9th grade year I was the only soccer player that stood out in my school because I wanted to stick my feet in and play soccer with the boys during their indoor practice. Playing with the boys gave me confidence to believe in myself and know that just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I can’t play soccer. They motivated me every day saying that whatever dreams I have with soccer it will soon come true.

I now play travel soccer with South Bronx United–a recipient of the Women’s Sports Foundation and espnW’s Sports 4 Life grant–where I also participate in academic programs. In general, playing soccer gave me leadership skills that I didn’t think I had. One day I want to be a soccer coach to young ladies like me and tell them that they can be whoever they wish to be. Not only has soccer made me a better person but it made me strong by overcoming challenges.

I tell my teammates not to doubt themselves and to never give up. My connection with the kids has brought me a connection with myself because I felt motivated and happy all over again. Each and every day I go with a quote, ‘When you feel like quitting, think about why you started.’”