Natalia Quezada Hernandez, a senior at Berkeley High School, has played soccer since eight years old, and it has surrounded her since.
Upon its arrival to Latin America in the late 1800s, soccer became a sport that brings families together and influences children growing up in Latin households.
Being a Latina soccer player, Quezada Hernandez describes that while her culture definitely impacted her starting to play the sport, she no longer views it as a tool to keep in touch with her culture.
Quezada Hernandez noted, “At first I did, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve been able to realize how I should be only doing it for me, and not just to please other people.”
Others, like senior Alan Rubio, view soccer as something with “sentimental value, because it’s what I grew up on.” His parents played soccer, so he was born into it, and spent his childhood watching Mexico games with his dad.
Rubio, like Quezada Hernandez, doesn’t play soccer to keep in touch with his heritage, but the game of soccer does create connections to it.
Kieran Bracken Serra, another BHS senior, is Brazilian, and explains that soccer is one of the biggest parts of Brazilian culture. “My dad played when he was younger and so me and my brother grew up playing with each other at the field, in the house, anywhere with a ball,” said Bracken Serra. He was coached by a community of Brazilian family and friends.
Conversely, “soccer wasn’t something that was a part of my family,” said Diego Montano, BHS senior. Instead, his Mexican culture brought him closer to teammates.
“I also met lots of different people from Latin countries that I grew close with and as a result learned about their culture,” said Montano.
The link between Latin cultures and soccer isn’t confined to one area of players’ lives; whether it strengthens bonds with teammates or families, the way heritage intertwines with soccer adds depth to its communities.