I was told “You must start behaving like a REAL girl.”

Nahir Raidán Ibarra is our Girls Soccer Worldwide Program Manager in Coronel Bogado, Paraguay.  She is leading the way for equality and empowerment in a small rural town where she grew up and she believes strongly in using her voice for change. Learn more about Nahir and her involvement with Girls Soccer Worldwide in our interview below.

Nahir with Maria/local GSW Ambassador and Johana Duárte/Las Pioneras Soccer Coach

GSW: How would you like to introduce yourself to our Girls Soccer Worldwide community?

Nahir: My name is Nahir Raidán Ibarra and I am 25 years old.  I am a second year student in the career of Psychology with a prior title of a Professional Chef.  I speak three languages: Spanish, English and Guarani and I am currently working with Girls Soccer Worldwide as a Program Manager for our 360 Sports and Education Leadership Program in Coronel Bogado, Paraguay.

Nahir and her mom, Carmen, during our 2019 Paraguay Trip.

GSW: How did you begin your work with Girls Soccer Worldwide?

Nahir: I learned about the Girls Soccer Worldwide organization through Maria Luján and Blanca (local Ambassador family) when María needed an English tutor.  She studied with me for three months and during this time I was able to learn more about the organization. I began to get involved in small projects and from that moment is how my work began with organization.

Nahir with her terére, a Paraguayan way of life.

GSW: Would you mind sharing your experience on the soccer field as a young girl and how that has impacted you today?

Nahir: Since I was a child I liked to play soccer and it was part of my life throughout all of elementary school.  I went to a small school and the girls team was very supported.  I was also fortunate to have the support of my family, too.

Everything changed when I started high school.  It was a difficult time. Everything was new and changing very fast.  From classmates, teachers, a bigger school, and one of the biggest problems for me was the need to fit in.  I was a shy girl which attributed to me having a hard time making new friends.

There was a lot of pressure when girls played fútbol and I had to listen to comments like:

“NO one will like you if you keep playing.”

“You must start behaving like a REAL girl.”

“Soccer is for MEN”.

It may not seem like much, but at that age those comments were very painful and unfortunately I was a very vulnerable girl.  I left the game of fútbol permanently and it is something I regret it because I look at it as me being weak, allowing that negativity to influence me.  It caused a lot of insecurity that, until today,  I have struggled to overcome. 

Nahir in conversation with Lexi Nicholas, Girls Soccer Worldwide Leader based in the US.

GSW:  How does this impact your role with Girls Soccer Worldwide

Nahir: My role with Girls Soccer Worldwide is important to me.  With this new generation of girls, I have the opportunity to be the voice I would like to have had during a difficult time of influence in my life.  I want to encourage them to not feel like they need to change who they are and that nothing, and no one, can stop can them from doing the things that make them happy and feel free.

The Girls Soccer Worldwide movement to me represents a door that needed to be opened many years ago.  It is a message of empowerment, education, and most importantly, not being afraid to be who you are.  It is about having the confidence to face your fears.

Mom receiving scholarship for her daughter who is a part of our 360 Sports and Education program in Paraguay.


GSW: What changes do you see taking place in your community?

Nahir: I believe Girls Soccer Worldwide is achieving economic and social change in Coronel Bogado.  We are managing to open the eyes for this next generation of girls and helping them to believe what can be accomplished through a good education.  Through our 360 Sports and Education Scholarship program, we are managing to change the mentality of parents and past generations.  We are encouraging them to see beyond their own beliefs.

Nahir with our Girls Soccer Worldwide volunteer, Rocio, working together in Paraguay.

GSW: What are your goals as you continue to study and works towards your career?

Nahir: Professionally, I am finally studying something I enjoy very much.  My goal is to get a scholarship in another country for one semester and in the future,  after finishing the university degree, continue to work with Girls Soccer Worldwide.  I want to help the minority, the part of the society that has no voice or rights in Paraguay.  I want to educate people about mental health and encourage them to take care of themselves and understand the importance of helping others.

Nahir with her mom, Carmen, and Pamela Jacobsen (Co-Founder of Girls Soccer Worldwide) in Paraguay during our 2018 trip.

GSW: What are some personal goals you have set for yourself?

Nahir: Personally, I hope to be happy with the person I have became as a woman and feel completely comfortable with myself.  I want to have the freedom to not being afraid anymore.  I hope to have my family and friends around me and keep learning and fighting for what is right.  Most important is being true to myself and my beliefs.

Thank you Nahir for all you are doing for the girls of Coronel Bogado and Girls Soccer Worldwide. Your drive and passion will have a reach much further than imagined because it all starts with one.  Change one.  Change Thousands.

VIDEO Message from Nahir

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