Andrea Martínez had played plenty of fútbol, but never football. She rarely even watched it on TV. Today, however, Martínez is the first woman ever to play college football in Mexico – and she’s doing it in the country’s top amateur division.
Martínez is the new place-kicker for Pumas CU, the football team at the National Autonomous University of México (UNAM) where she is currently studying law. She had played fútbol for UNAM, but when she found out the college was holding tryouts for a kicker on its football team, she thought she would give it a shot. It didn’t register with her at the time that the team was made up of all men.
“At first … I did not even fully understand that I was going to be the first woman,” Martínez, 21, told The Associated Press. “I thought there were more girls or that there was even going to be a women’s team.”
Martínez had been playing fútbol since she was 12 years old. While playing fútbol at UNAM, she tried out to play professionally for the highest division of women’s fútbol in Mexico known as Liga Femenil MX. Unfortunately, she didn’t land a roster spot. Martínez played fútbol for a while longer at UNAM but then decided it was time to try something new.
“The decision I made was to try a new sport,” she said. “Nothing else, just to venture out and see what it was all about. I was very happy when I heard the news that I had been the [only] girl selected.”
Now on a roster full of men, Martínez considers all her teammates brothers. “I get along very well,” she said. “I have gotten to know them, not only in the gym, but here on the field as well. There are 67 more siblings that I have so far.”
Along with her extended football family, Martínez has also gained a new fanbase that she never thought she would have. “There are little girls and boys who come and ask me for a photo or come up and say very nice words to me,” she said. “It’s the most gratifying thing I’ve ever felt, being able to realize that, perhaps I´m inspiring them a little.”