When Mara Gómez began playing soccer seven years ago, she wasn’t very good at it. She didn’t imagine she’d ever become a futbolista. But recently, when Gómez, 22, joined Villa San Carlos, she became the first transgender woman to join a team in Argentina’s top women’s league.

At 15, Mara was figuring out her identity and sexuality. It was a difficult phase in her life, where she was bullied and excluded. She didn’t see a way forward to the future. But things changed when she returned to La Plata and realized that the women in the neighborhood had created a cancha. They invited her to play.

“I was really bad, but I realized that it was helping me,” she said. “I could escape a lot of things and it calmed my mind. Fútbol was like therapy. I began to devote more time to it. At 18, everything changed when I began transitioning. I tried out in Toronto City and they accepted me, as I am. They opened their doors and saw me as just one more player. I ended up at a lot of other teams until I got to Malvinas, which was where I was last and we became two-time league champions.”

She was the top goalscorer at Malvinas. Currently, Villa San Carlos is at the bottom of the league.