Take a peek at our interview with Micaela Scafani, Girls Soccer Worldwide™ Trailblazer. She traveled with our team to mentor and offer assistance along with insight for our international program while in Paraguay. You will see she is compassionate, provides great insight, is passionate for all things GSW. Enjoy!!
GSW: Tell us a little about yourself.
Hey everyone! My name is Micaela Scafani, people within my soccer family call me Mica 🙂 Soccer was definitely a huge part of my life growing up and I’ll be forever grateful that the sport led me to Pleasanton RAGE, to Walter, Co-Founder of Girls Soccer Worldwide, and later to the organization.
I had the opportunity to play for Walter for several years, throughout high school and up until I left for college. I also had the honor to play alongside two other Trailblazers, Lexi and Precious, during all of these years.
keeping in contact with Walter and watching his vision play out through photographs and videos of their time in Paraguay. Eventually I decided to become a Trailblazer myself and travelled with Girls Soccer Worldwide to Paraguay in 2019.
While I was born and raised in the Bay Area, I have been living in Portland, Oregon for the past four years now. I completed my undergraduate degree from Portland State University in Public Health with an emphasis in Health Sciences and Pre-Physician Assistant Studies.
Since graduation, I have been enjoying life in this beautiful city while working towards graduate school. I have stayed busy with various jobs, including medical scribe, phlebotomist, and barista! We will see where the world takes me next!
GSW: What would you say inspired you most to get involved with our organization and then travel to Paraguay?
many of which continue to inspire me today! I think the most impactful inspiration came from watching Walter channel his passion and vision into reality…For as long as I have known Walter, he has always been very passionate about the topics of girls equality, empowerment, and education.
As a coach, he brought to our attention that girls living among impoverished and undeveloped parts of the world have very different lives than we do, facing many difficult challenges and realities.
He brought to our attention the inequalities that female student athletes face around the world – inequalities that most commonly stem from extreme poverty, lack of education, gender bias and discrimination, cultural and social norms, and lack of female empowerment.
He always encouraged a grateful state of mind. All that being said, I was truly so proud of Walter when I first heard about the development of GSW. He had found a way to fulfill his purpose and life calling.
To see someone so passionate about something, then to see them turn that passion into action and impactful change, was truly inspiring.
Throughout my time in college, I became increasingly fueled by the topics of female empowerment, women’s health, and global health. Overtime, I realized my passions greatly align with the missions of GSW.
Working with this organization would allow me the opportunity to practice so many of the things I had become passionate about. I knew it would open my eyes to a whole other world, a whole other reality.
I continued to stay in touch with Walter and when we began to speak about the organization with his wife, Pamela, our passions quickly fueled each other. I was inspired by how her involvement with GSW literally changed her life and outlook towards the world.
Plus, she was able to share many touching photographs, videos, and stories of her time in Paraguay – all incredibly humbling and inspiring.
Travelling to Paraguay then felt like a calling down the path I was born to follow. And indeed- a couple years later and one South America trip down, GSW has fulfilled all of these things for me, and more.
I owe my inspiration not only to Walter and Pam, but to my old teammates Lexi and Precious who were some of the very first Trailblazers, to my parents and family for encouraging my participation with GSW from the start, and lastly to all the girls in Paraguay who’s stories had been shared with me and who imprinted on my heart before I could even meet them.
GSW: How has your experience on the soccer field as a young girl attributed to becoming a confident woman today?
Mica: I started playing soccer around five years old, and continued through my second year of college at age 20. Even at the young age of five, although tiny, I was described as a tenacious, fearless, and hard working player.
I was very blessed to grow up in a family and among a community that valued and supported girls sports. In addition, my own father was my coach for many of my earlier years. I might be a little biased, but he was pretty awesome. He always encouraged my feistiness and work ethic. He did his best to instill confidence in all the young girls he coached.
We were capable, strong, and could take on any boys team. He had us rolling in the mud and challenging the boys team to a scrimmage every chance he could!
I believe am capable. I am strong. And, I am powerful enough to keep up with the boys. This theme of empowerment continued throughout the majority of my competitive soccer career, specifically during my time at Pleasanton Rage.
Under the guidance of Walter, and other amazing coaches and trainers, I learned many life skills along the way. From dedication, discipline, accountability, cohesive, trusting, and the importance of a supportive teamwork.
These values have already guided me and apply to more than just soccer. I have no doubt these lessons, along with everything else I learned on the field, has helped shape me into who I am today.
GSW: What moment stands out to you the most during your trip to Paraguay with Girls Soccer Worldwide?
These home visits gave a deeper understanding to the lives of those living in rural Paraguay. I saw what it was like to live without, to live a simpler life, and still be filled with joy, pride, and enthusiasm for life. I’m forever grateful to these girls for opening their homes and sharing their world with us.
Additionally, my time spent shadowing in the local hospital impacted me very deeply. I remember leaving after the second day and thinking, ‘yeah, alright, this is what I’m meant to do’…I could feel it in my soul! This experience literally broke my heart open.
The impact came from so many different angles. I am forever grateful for all the lessons learned on this trip.
GSW: What changes do you see GSW making in the lives of young girls living in poverty?
Oh the list goes on! Here are a few to mention…
Girls are receiving greater encouragement and support towards a more consistent education. They are finding their voices and building confidence, realizing they deserve to DREAM BIG and are worthy of a promising future. Girls who engage in sports, or who show interest, are starting to feel greater support from their families and communities.
GSW: How do you vision your involvement with Girls Soccer Worldwide in the future?
Mica: I hope to continue my involvement with Girls Soccer Worldwide for the rest of my life! One of the most beautiful things during our trip to Paraguay was recognizing the diverse talents, skills, and passions of everyone involved. We all offer something different to the group and it contributes to our collective strength.
I feel this is my avenue for sharing my strengths and knowledge. It is also an avenue to make an impactful change. I hope that I can continue incorporating these topics into my work with Girls Soccer Worldwide.
I envision this happening in so many exciting ways! I would like work at the local hospital in Coronel Bogado while helping to increase reproductive empowerment and education.
Also, work alongside Girls Soccer Worldwide to develop a safe, welcoming community shelter for the girls of Coronel Bogado. Locally, I daydream about helping facilitate a local branch of GSW, in whatever city I end up in.
I dream of returning to Paraguay one day, and feel hopeful that this will happen. Regardless of the opportunity to travel abroad, I plan to continue supporting, encouraging, and advertising GSW the best I can!
Continue this conversation in Part 2 of our Interview with Mica as she talks more about her journey in the medical field, her experience in a Paraguayan Hospital, and navigating through COVID as a medical professional.