GSW: How would you like to be introduced to our Girls Soccer Worldwide community in the states?
My name is Johana Duarte, I am 24 years old and I live in Coronel Bogado, Itapúa Paraguay. Currently, I am the soccer coach for Girls Soccer Worldwide in the first EVER ALL girls recreational soccer team in Coronel Bogado, Las Pioneras.
GSW: Would you mind sharing your experience on the soccer field as a young girl? How has this impacted you today?
Since I can remember soccer has been and continues to be everything for me.
In my childhood when I started playing, I had many obstacles I faced in my family and at schools since it was considered a boys’ sport and it was bad for a girl to play.
As I grew up, the bullying and teasing continued, but it only made me stronger and more convicted to pursue my dream of being a soccer player.
I grew up seeing how people made fun of other girls younger than me and pushed them aside.
Even though the comments were often hurtful, I had to impose myself and give my position, that everyone knew what I wanted in this life and that nobody was going to get that out of my head.
“Nunca Baja los brazos” I never walked with my shoulders down. I never gave up! My perseverance led me to playing soccer in a more developed city in Encarnación, Paraguay only a short time ago.
GSW: How did you begin your work with Girls Soccer Worldwide?
In 2016, I met the Girls Soccer Worldwide organization during their first trip to Coronel Bogado.
Following that trip, I remember the exact day they called to share the idea of forming an all girls soccer team and proposed the idea of me getting involved. I did not hesitate to say yes!
It was a way to help and support all the girls who love this beautiful sport. To share all my experiences, good or bad, and to give provide them with all the knowledge I have learned so far.
Girls are learning they are not alone. As a result, it is helping them to have more courage. They are learning that with everything they set out to do…with education, courage, and perseverance, it is possible. Women can get ahead in this sport!
When they asked me to be part of their project and I was so excited! I didn’t know how to react. I couldn’t believe the power of saying “yes” would lead to everything that came next.
My biggest dream…to accept the position of being their girls’ soccer coach!
There is nothing that has filled me with more happiness than knowing I could help inspire young girls who have the same dream I did. To play the game.
Since then, I have been working and supporting the efforts behind GSW. Although, it has come with its ups and downs, I always keep my head up and look ahead.
It is something we have never seen and is needed in this community.
(Due to COVID19, soccer practice has been on hold. Our focus has been ensuring our girls have access to education and keeping food in the bellies of our Las Pioneers families and partnered schools.)
GSW: What are your goals as you continue to study and works towards your career?
In addition to working with Girls Soccer Worldwide, an important goal for me is to complete my university education. I am currently on a scholarship program with GSW and dedicated to completing my thesis in the degree of Bachelor of Social Work at the National University of Itapúa.
My education will help me to follow my soccer career and be able to grow as a professional coach. In my role as a coach and a leader in my community, it will help in the mediation of conflicts of all kinds.
Whether it be individuals, families, groups, institutions, etc…
I come from a small and wonderful family. At the moment, I am living with my younger sister and my mother. My father and other sister went to Argentina in search of a better future.
Continuing my education will give me an opportunity to get a well-paid job and provide my family with their best comforts.
(Long term education is key for the girls in our small town. With Johana achieving this goal, it is setting an example for every girl to know they can achieve and chase their dreams, too!)
I have already finished my degree of Bachelor of Pharmacy Technician and I’m currently working as a Veterinary Assistant.
GSW: What are some personal goals you have set for yourself?
My goal with GSW is to continue to participate in everything needed to grow our program. I want to share my knowledge, perseverance, and empathy to all the girls in our program and to our community as a whole.
Seeing the girls with such enthusiasm at each practice fills me with strength and pushes me to continue. I never want to disappoint them!
I want to bring more ideas so this beautiful program can reach more parts of my country. Above it all, I know there is nothing that cannot be accomplished with faith and perseverance.
Help Johana continue to make an impact by being a voice alongside her. GET INVOLVED TODAY.