Catarina Macario followed her family’s dream to become a USWNT international and Olympian. She has competed in four Olympic Games, winning two gold medals and one silver medal.
The women’s us soccer team is an international soccer team that is composed of women. Catarina Macario followed her family’s dream to become a USWNT international and Olympian.
For a young girl, trying out for a place on a travel soccer team may be daunting. “Intimidating” was not enough for Catarina Macario, a 12-year-old girl.
Her father had taken the choice to relocate his son and daughter from Brazil to the United States, mostly so that Catarina might fulfill the family’s shared goal of becoming a soccer star. In Brazil, girls who played soccer were not taken seriously, and the United States represented a country of possibility.
Long before Macario was a little girl in San Diego, a new location where she couldn’t speak in English and felt uncertain of herself, she was a young girl in San Diego, a new place where she couldn’t communicate in English, and she made the Tokyo Olympics roster for the US women’s national team.
She was nervous about trying out for an American girls’ squad after years of playing with males in Brazil.
“I was extremely anxious,” Macario told ESPN from Japan, where she is a member of the US Olympic team. “It was like, ‘We’ve relocated here, this is the real deal, and I’m the reason why we’re here,’ kind of thing.” “I placed a lot of pressure on myself because I knew how much my family had invested in me and how much they had sacrificed.”
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Chris Lemay was accustomed to families interested in moving to Southern California approaching him about trials for the Elite Clubs National League-affiliated San Diego Surf as a coach. It didn’t work out most of the time because the players weren’t talented enough, according to Lemay, who is currently the women’s head coach at Utah Valley University. When Macario and her family arrived, Lemay didn’t think much of it since her brother Estevao knew English and served as an interpreter. The little girl, on the other hand, made her first contact with the ball…
“It only took me 15 seconds to understand this guy was from another planet,” Lemay told ESPN over the phone. “A ball was sent into her path, and she scooped it up with her thigh and volleyed it into the top corner. ‘Whoa,’ I thought as she hit the ball with such power. ‘Please, let us get her on this squad as soon as possible.’”
According to Macario, she left the audition knowing she needed to improve. Macario refers to it as the “American style” that she needed to incorporate into her current skill set, which essentially meant she had to become more physically active, particularly because her father, Jose, demanded she play a year-up with older girls, which was Lemay’s squad. Regardless, the Surf coaches got a glimpse of who Macario was as a player that day, including her soccer IQ and technical ability, and that’s all that counted.
“At the end of the day,” Macario, who is now 21 years old, remarked, “soccer is soccer.” “It may be played differently by various people, but it’s still the same game.”
Catarina Macario went from playing soccer alongside boys in Brazil to representing the United States Women’s National Team. Getty
Arriving in the United States
There are a lot more goal highlights if you search up Catarina Macario on YouTube.
There was the moment at Stanford when she danced her way past three defenders, practically toying with them as if the ball were stuck to her foot, before laying off a flawless pass. There was also the goal in which she trapped a ball on her thigh, bounced it off her foot, and then blasted a volley from 20 yards out without allowing the ball to hit the ground. However, there are excerpts from Brazilian news shows in which a 10-year-old Macario is interviewed and B-roll footage of her playing soccer with males is shown.
There was no other choice for Macario: if she wanted to play soccer and for a genuine club, she had to play alongside the guys. She was, however, a bit of a novelty in soccer-crazed Brazil. Is it true that a female was playing soccer with boys? Have you ever been a part of a winning team? And she was a high-scoring player? It was thrilling for some, but it was a problem for others.
“Having a female playing on an all-boys team was simply a novel idea since, at least when I was there, there weren’t many girls participating,” Macario said. “I was typically the lone female in the room. It was something fresh, something unusual that no one had seen before, and the fact that I was succeeding just added to it. I wasn’t just messing about with them: I was really doing quite good, you know?
“It was really unprecedented, and some people, understandably, responded positively. Some people were encouraging, and they saw my ability, so they applauded for me. Others, on the other hand, were a bit antagonistic towards it. They claimed that females should not participate in sports.”
Macario started her professional club career with Lyon in France after winning two national titles with Stanford. UEFA/UEFA/UEFA/UEFA/UEFA/UEFA/UEFA/UEFA/UEFA/UEFA/UEFA/UEFA/ courtesy of Getty Images
It’s tough enough to enter adolescence and figure out your position in the world. However, for Macario, doing what she loved became a referendum on her gender and whether or not women should be allowed to play soccer. Even the moms of the other children would advise her to concentrate on other things. Macario, who is Black, claimed she would be teased about her color and gender by other students. It was sometimes too much for her, and she wanted to give up.
“There were certainly moments when I’d have a terrible game, and it just reinforced the notion that I shouldn’t be playing,” she said. “I’d begin to question my own skills.” ‘Ugh, I can’t cope with it any longer; I just want to be a regular child,’ I’d think at times.
“I recall crying my eyes out on a number of occasions.”
Her parents encouraged her not to squander her ability, and her father in particular pushed her to do so. Macario’s experience was the topic of an article she published for the Players’ Tribune earlier this year. “It was the most wonderful thing in the world for him to watch his daughter compete with the guys — there were no girls’ teams where we lived — but the more he saw how excellent I was, the more he would push me,” she wrote. “The better I became, the more pressure I was under, and the harsher his criticism became.”
“Catarina’s father had a lot of clout: he wanted his daughter to be a celebrity,” Lemay stated.
But with the pushing came support, and Macario praises Jose and her mother Ana Maria for not giving up.
Her father searched YouTube for “greatest women’s soccer player ever” and discovered footage of Mia Hamm of the United States. Despite the fact that Hamm had already retired at the time, Macario was able to see stadiums packed with fans screaming for this incredible soccer player who also happened to be a woman. It was a strong motivation for her, and it was an image she would remember.
She came to a fork in the path before she turned twelve. She was no longer permitted to play on boys’ teams in Brazil due to the regulations. She had the option of quitting or finding a new location to play. It was easy to figure out where it was: Jose, Catarina, and Estevao came to America while their mother remained in Brazil to practice medicine and support the family. Leaving your home country and all you’ve ever known may seem tough, but Macario was determined to make the journey.
“It was a simple choice: I could remain and squander my skills, or we could attempt to follow this goal,” she said.
“I concluded that I want a nation that supports and appreciates what I want to accomplish. It was just superior, even in terms of education. So my family chose to relocate, and I fell in love with the United States, and it is here that I developed into the person and player that I am today.”
As the USWNT progresses to the Olympics semifinals, Ali Krieger responds to Vlatko Andonovski’s choice to start Lynn Williams.
How to Become an Olympian
Catarina Macario was expecting a call from Vlatko Andonovski, the head coach of the US women’s national team. She was in Stanford visiting college friends when Andonovski contacted her to anticipate a call. Andonovski was in the midst of whittling down his team for the Tokyo Olympics and texted her to expect a call.
Macario had participated in several national team camps and expected to hear from the coach anyway. The phone rang, and after a brief exchange of pleasantries, he remarked, “Congratulations, you are going to the Olympics.”
“It felt a little weird because I feel like this year has given me so many great things — obtaining my citizenship and then receiving my first hat,” Macario said. “It was a true honor to be selected for the Olympic squad, and I know there were many players who were much more worthy. In some ways, I was in a state of shock.”
The call-up brought an end to a spectacular ascent. Macario made her debut against Colombia in January, three months after becoming a US citizen and being invited into a USWNT camp on the same day. She made her debut a few days later, netting her first goal against the same opponent.
“Physically, she is already ready to be at this level, which is a big leap from college to this level,” Megan Rapinoe, a teammate from the United States, remarked after the game. “You watched her hold it up; she’s quick, she’s quick, and she thinks quickly. She’ll simply be one of those entertaining players you like watching, someone who will thrill the crowd and come up with something unique.”
Macario’s firsts have been coming, and she showed herself again last week when she came on as a late replacement in the United States’ 6-1 victory against New Zealand. Despite being the club’s youngest member, she appeared ready for the stage after making the team as an alternate until a regulation change placed her on the main roster.
Lemay hasn’t coached Macario in years, but he still speaks with her on a daily basis and watches all of her games; he compares her to Neo from the “Matrix” movies, who can slow time down when she has the ball at her feet.
Although he felt her performance versus New Zealand was promising, he did have one criticism:
“The minutes she received against New Zealand were a fantastic reflection of who she is,” Lemay said. “She finished every pass and was excellent on the ball.” “I believe she has to be more selfish in that atmosphere, which is probably tough. There are a lot of veterans and well-known people here.”
Indeed, when asked by ESPN whether there’s anything about Macario that people should know, he didn’t hesitate.
“Everyone wants to speak about her transfer to the United States and her playing skill,” Lemay said. “But one of the most interesting things to me is simply how modest she is.” “There’s no feeling of entitlement or arrogance.”
That may seem contradictory with her ascent to fame or her playing style in certain aspects. Players with the dribbling ability to humiliate defenders and the finishing instincts to leave goalkeepers in the dust, like as Macario, are often the attention-seekers or braggarts.
But she has held herself in control, focusing on how she can grow rather than what she has already accomplished. Macario has been kept off the matchday squad for the United States’ remaining games in Japan, apart from a few minutes late in the victory against New Zealand. However, if she participates in Monday’s quarterfinal versus Canada, it may be a watershed event in her short career.
When she isn’t playing or practicing, Macario calls her parents every day and asks how she is doing and how the Olympic Village is. Her father is in France, where he relocated to be closer to her while she plays for Lyon, and her mother is still in Brazil.
Nothing, however, can ever compare to the phone call she made to inform them that she would be a member of the American gold-medal squad.
“I should have FaceTimed them to check whether they really cried,” Macario said. “They were both overjoyed. It was the cherry on top of everything we’d worked so hard for. That’s what my parents gave up everything for, so I could represent the United States on a global platform.”
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