Sports

Mara Gómez is Making History with Nike’s ‘Play New’ Campaign — & Here’s Why

Lead Photo: Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla

Mara Gómez, Argentina’s first transgender woman soccer player, has teamed up with Nike for its “Play New” campaign.

Gómez made history in December 2020 when she took the field in her debut for Villa San Carlos in Berisso, Argentina. Last year, she told ESPN that playing soccer is like therapy for her. “[It’s] my emotional source of support; it’s a lifestyle for me,” she said. “When I say that it saved my life, it’s because I had suicidal episodes when I was a teenager, and football was the one thing that allowed me to take those thoughts off my mind.”

On Instagram, Gómez wrote that she couldn’t believe a partnership with Nike happened. She compared it to something out of a storybook. “I thought that getting to where I am was like believing in unicorns,” Gómez posted. “We know they don’t exist, that it’s a fantasy, that it’s never going to happen. Today, I believe that unicorns exist. Today, I believe in the possible.”

The 60-second Nike advertisement shows Gómez playing on the field and training. At one point in the ad, it begins to rain soccer balls.

“Today, I’m the first professional transgender player in Argentina,” she says in the ad. “And it was not easy, because I didn’t have a role model to follow. So, it’s my turn to open the door for the athletes to come.”

When Nike launched the “Play New” campaign earlier this year, it included four goals a person could reach through play – joy, inspiration, resilience, and discovery. “Sport becomes a vehicle for you to get to know yourself, to be comfortable with yourself, to be confident, to try concepts out that you will use in the world,” said Melanie Auguste, VP of Global Brand Marketing for Nike.

The definition of resilience in sports might as well include a picture of Gómez. She exudes it.