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Yoreli Rincon: ‘We will win a Medal in Toronto Panamerican Games, That’s for Sure’

Yoreli Rincon: ‘We will win a Medal in Toronto Panamerican Games, That’s for Sure’

Posted by Sara Bello on February 11, 2015

Yoreli Rincon is the pioneer of female soccer in Colombia. She has won every single award: she was labeled best player of the America Cup, best player of the League, best ‘Ten’ winger, nominated to the “Rookie of the year” award. Rincon is presently playing with Italy’s ASD Torres and she’s working hard to face her next challenge: Toronto Panamerican Games, to kick off on July 10, 2015. In this exclusive Q&A she talked to PanamericanWorld about her life and the role she plays in Colombia’s female soccer.

THE BIRTH OF A DREAM

It’s in your blood; I’ve loved soccer for as long as I can remember. My brother is frustrated soccer player because he was never supported. I began walking with him: I was 2 years old, but I wasn’t walking yet, so he was taking care of me, he gave me a soccer ball and I walked to catch it. My mother also used to play in the neighborhood, in bare feet, and I always wanted to be as strong as her because kicking soccer balls in bare feet is very difficult.

My father always hated that, he has hit me nearly a thousand times, he used to do it with a hose, grounded me. He had a ball factory, I was 6 years old and I was in charge of inflating the soccer balls. If there were one or two extra balls I used to take them and play in the street.

As my father hated that so badly, he used to give me dolls. I always took these dolls’ heads to play with them as soccer balls.

PROFESSION

I’ve always felt that playing in the national team is great, they sent me to study and gave all the support I needed. They helped me grow up in this sense, because I was never backed up in my city. It was hard because I was only 11 years old, but I was determined to do my best in an effort to join Colombia’s team.

I went to my first World Cup in New Zealand, but I lost the year because the nuns didn’t let me play soccer. I started to study English because I thought that that was my way: wining a scholarship in the United States and become an example for my family. Four months later I realized that I couldn’t figure myself studying five years in college. I said that I was willing to be a professional and it was like boom, because it was madness, but I was determined to make history. I was dreaming to be like Mia Hamm from USA, like Marta in Brazil.

We weren’t paid at the team. I used to walk three hours to go to the training sessions and then three hours to go back, I didn’t had lunch sometimes and if I had, dinner was off the table. My friends were never aware of this reality, but Paola who always helped me.

THE FIRST CONTRACT

10 US universities came for me, the finest educational centers, but I said no because I was dreaming about being a professional soccer player. I went to the World Cup (under-20) and I scored the best goal in the world. Then they chose me as the best player of the South American Games and, in 2012, I was still having these long walks because there was no money for us. We are on TV, but the accounts are always empty.

In January 2012, I named best player of the championship, I had my first contact with a team and my dream came true: it was my first contract. It was the first time in history that a female player had a professional contract, not as economically high as men’s, but it radically changed my life. I was looking forward to playing in Europe and I did it in 2013. I played Champions, I scored goals. I’ve always played the historic woman role, but I’m proud to achieve what I want.

THE OLYMPIC GAMES

Since the day when I was 12 and they told me that I wasn’t good at soccer, the toughest moment in my history took place in London, 2012. It was my birthday and he didn’t let my friends celebrate with me. They didn’t stand by me because he was the boss, except for Paola Sanchez, she was always there for me. That’s the reason why this America Cup was the most important thing in my life, because I knew that I had to go back to the Olympic Games. I think that I haven’t participated in the Olympic Games, I suffered in London, I only played 30 minutes.

THE LESSON

One of the things I learned refers to the fact that you must not become a friend of managers. I was a very good friend of Ricardo Rozo, we got into an argument at Gol Star club and he reflected it in the Colombia team. That’s why I’m so cold with people, but I’m very professional and Felipe knows it. We never talk to each other unless he calls me. He knows that, during the training sessions, if we have to do the moves ten times I do eleven or twelve.

I learned to respect and admire managers, but I don’t want to be a personal friend. The managers must be respected and honored with your actions in the field, but nothing else.

ADAPTING TO LIVE ABROAD

When I went to Brazil, they told me that I was strong and I would make it. Then I realized that I couldn’t understand a word. Two months later I was already speaking Portuguese. When I went to Sweden I regretted not having studied English. This is a piece of advice for soccer players: learning a second language is very useful.

They were speaking Swedish and translating it into English, but I couldn’t get a word. I didn’t give up. I found a Colombian colony and they helped me a lot. My English is not perfect, but I know everything related to the sport. It was a hard transition, but I had it when I arrived in the United States.

A DREAM COME TRUE

I was never interested in going to the United States, but I met the person I admire the most in the soccer realm: Carli Lloyd, the US ‘Ten’. She’s my idol and I became ‘Ten’ with her in the club, it was my dream. I asked her how to run as much as she does, but she didn’t answer because her trainer says that nobody can know what she does.

Carli and I became friends, and ten days later she introduced me to her coach, James Galanis. He told me: “I only have five world-class female soccer players; I had Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007. I want a Latin American player, but I only take the very best, the ones that are going to make history, and I believe that you are going to be one of those.” He trained me for the America Cup and I became the best player thanks to him.

TORONTO PANAMERICAN GAMES

We’re very excited about the Panamerican Games because four years ago we weren’t this trained and we ranked fourth, Mexico took an hour to defeat us, but we nearly win the bronze medal with a team that had never competed in the Panamerican Games. We didn’t have a single training game. Brazil was the champion and Canada, the number two, trained for a whole year.

We haven’t trained much for these Panamerican Games, but we’re more experienced. We cannot say we’re going to be the champions if we play against Brazil or Canada, which hold friendly games every fifteen days. Anyway, I’m sure that we’ll win a medal in this edition of the Panamerican Games. I hope it’s a gold medal and we can go to the finals just as we always go, without League or support.

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