Since she was a little girl, her passion was seeing the ball rolling, carrying it, kicking it and running after it, while dolls and other games could stay in the toy box.
It wasn’t in the National Stadium or Project Goal. It was in the streets of the San Martin neighborhood in Nicoya where Carol Sanchez, central defense for the national women’s soccer team, played her first games with her cousins and neighborhood friends. Now she will play in the Women’s Soccer World Cup in Canada, which begins on June 6th.
Although soccer was always her passion, Sanchez spent her early years running track, during which time she was developing athletic discipline, strength and speed. She participated in many national track competitions and it was not until 2004, when she turned 17, that she became part of the Carrillo soccer team.
“I became an athlete in track. In that sport, I learned discipline to be able to do what the coaches asked, and when I joined the Carrillo team, that formally marked the beginning of my career. That year, we were champions with Carrillo in the first division,” Sanchez recalled.
At home, the soccer player has a collection of a dozen medals that are proof of the achievements she has reaped in her short career. However, the medal that she appreciates most is the one that qualified them for the World Cup, awarded to them for second place in the preliminary World Cup eliminations.
Her mother, Cecilia Sanchez, believes that soccer has been running in the Nicoyan’s blood since she was very little, so much so that not one single school recess passed without her playing a soccer game.
“Every day, she came to me with scuffed shoes because she was even kicking stones,” commented her mother, who says that “she has always had my support. She is a good daughter, studious and very disciplined in everything. She has gotten where she is by her own means.”
Although everyone in Carol’s family likes soccer, she is the only one who has succeeded in developing a career in this sport, at least that’s what her sister, Milagro, acknowledged.
“My sister is a source of pride, an example to follow and since I was little, I wanted to follow in her footsteps. I thought I would be able to play soccer like her. At school, I tried but I couldn’t. It definitely is not my thing,” Milagro said.
Having a family member playing professionally is like being on an emotional roller coaster. There are moments of great anxiety. “The day of the qualifiers, we were all gathered together here and it was heart-stopping. When Carol was going to kick the penalty shot, I covered my face and suddenly I turned my back and said, “My girl, become great because I can’t see you,” and when I saw that she had made the goal, I enjoyed it. It was a lovely experience; we all lived it incredibly,” commented Francisca Sanchez, Carol’s aunt.
Not everything has been roses and flowers for the national player. In 2012, playing for Liberia, she was injured in her right eye, which left her on the sidelines for more than three months and due to which she was about to give up soccer.
“When I played in Liberia, the ball hit me straight in the right eye and for a long time, I couldn’t see well and it distressed me a lot, and I said to myself, how was it possible that what I loved the most was going to leave me without sight, and I said no more. I’m going to devote myself to college. At that time, I was approached by Shirley Cruz (a Costa Rican soccer player who plays in France) and I started to feel motivate and that’s why today, I am living any soccer player’s dream– being in the world cup,” Sanchez said.