For Mara Gomez, football has always been one of her first loves and she fulfilled a lifetime ambition on Monday when she took the field for Argentinian club Villa San Carlos. The 23-year-old had endured a pain-staking few months as she awaited approval from the International Olympic Committee and other governing bodies as to whether she would be allowed to turn professional in the women’s game. She marked her debut with an impressive performance in a 7-1 win for Villa San Carlos over Lanus in Primera A and she looks set to be pioneer for transgender footballers the world over.
Paving the way
Football like many sports, has been relatively slow to the draw when it comes to embracing the LGBTQIA+ community. In the past decade, fans have become far more vocal and prominent with LGBTQIA+ supporters groups now commonplace but on the field of play, developments have been slow going.
Particularly in the trans community, the lack of big name role models for youngsters to look up to within sporting spheres, could have a negative effect on the next generation of athletes. Mara Gomez has played football her whole life and described it as an escape from all of the problems she faced in her younger life. Now, she has become a pioneer for transgender footballers and there is a hope that her breakthrough could encourage others to follow suit.
Work still to do
Gomez’s professional debut has been lauded the world over and at the age of 23, she looks to have a bright future ahead of her. She came to prominence at the start of 2020 and not only had to wait for clearance from governing bodies but also her own manager.
Villa San Carlos is one of the biggest sides in Argentina and like every player on the roster, Gomez has had to wait patiently for her chance in the starting XI. Manager Juan Cruz Vitale has been quoted as saying that ‘whilst she has an eye for goal, she needs to build up her physical strength to make the team.’
Few appearances in world football recently have the potential to be a landmark as much as Gomez’s showing could be and many in the game are hoping for a ripple effect across the football playing world. In the UK, professional leagues are still awaiting their first trans footballer and it is a similar story in Europe, with governing bodies and teams still becoming educated on the LGBTQIA+ communities.
For the time being,Mara Gomez has made history as the first transgender woman to play professional football and she could well be a trailblazer for generations to come.