The goalkeeper plays now in the Mexican First Division after having found in the USA the perfect option to combine sports and academic education.

María’s American dream started off in the neighbourhood of Horta, Barcelona. A short distance from exit 4 of the Ronda de Dalt, where the grey asphalt finishes and the green of the football ground starts. “It’s there where I finally learned that I wanted to dedicate my whole life to the sport and I also realised the serious commitment that I had to put into it. Having lived and trained at Fundación Marcet, apart from adding points to my résumé, made me more mature and understand the real side of football. If it wasn’t for that and all of what they taught me, I wouldn’t have received the scholarship at Bethany College sports academy”.

María Concha Vázquez plays today in the Mexican First Division. She is the goalkeeper of Gallos Blancos, a team from Querétaro, the city where she was born in 1999. But María does not forget the studies. “At the moment I am focused on playing soccer, but I do not lose the idea of dedicating myself in the future to sports journalism,” she said. “I decided not to study and play at the same time because I like to do things very well and for that I have to be totally focused on something. I see this experience of playing in the First Division as part of my career: it is very important to know what it is to be a professional player in order to write or talk about it in the media. “

That’s why the Bethany College, in West Virginia, has been a fundamental stage in his academic-sports training. The United States is the perfect option for a girl who has a very clear idea that a footballer’s life is very short and that an ex-footballer’s life is very long. “I want to study and finish a degree but I have to be able to combine it with the sport, find a balance”, said the Mexican keeper during her time in Barcelona. “I want to study journalism or communication and specialise in sports. It would be awesome to play for a professional side for a few years and then to be able to live from it when I retire”.

The university system in America seems like it has been specifically designed to combine both aspects. It uses football to give the opportunity to study in some of the most prestigious universities in the world. How? “It’s a long process, that takes more than a year”, María points out. “First of all you have to create an academic and sports Résumé. Then you have to provide a video with your best moments during matches and during training. Then you have to pass two exams that all American universities require, the SAT and the TOEFL”. With all of the above you’re then placed into a shop window where the universities interested in your profile will then start to get in contact.

María Concha al lado de un campo de la Bethany College.
Mexican goalkeeper María Concha in a Bethany College football field (West Virginia – USA).

“I received letters from different colleges and I was in touch with various coaches via video-calls”, María explains, who had a choice of where to go. “I visited the universities that I was interested in and in the end I chose Bethany College, where I’ll study sports communication. I decided to study in the States because it’s possible to study for a degree and compete at a high level there. The universities there have a great a great balance when it comes to Academic education and sports education. Both are at a very high level and have the same importance”.

Another thing taken into account when choosing the USA is the opportunity that women have in the sport there. “My coach in Mexico always told me that if I wanted to play football seriously, I would have to leave the country”, recalls the keeper, telling us how hard it would be to continue her career in a nation where the King of Sports is exceptionally masculine.

María Concha junto a dos entrenadores de la Bethany College que le dan la bienvenida a la Universidad.
María Concha with two trainers at Bethany College.
Claudia Vázquez, the goalie’s mother, explains that when her daughter got to Barcelona there wasn’t even a women’s league in Mexico. “Her coaches were worried, because she couldn’t continue to play in the men’s team. In certain tournaments they had to ask for special permissions for her to take part, in others they would straight up reject her. Her development in the sport was starting to stutter”. From here María decided to spend a year at Marcet to improve and then continue her development in the States.

However, in recent years things have started to change. In 2016 Mexico started a women’s league, although the championship is only in it’s starting phases. “There is constantly more and more interest, but there is still a lot to do”, María explains: “I am aware of the great opportunity I have and that I am making History with the Gallos Blancos. That’s why I enjoy every day as if it were the last.”

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