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Voices of the Nation's Future

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Growing up I moved around a lot. I lived in Massachusetts my whole life, but I moved from city to city. We first lived in Lynn. That was when I was just a toddler and didn't even know my name. We moved to Revere with my uncle, when I was four. He let us live in a room upstairs, but we still had to pay rent. I never got the chance to settle down. It was hard to make friends. That was until we moved to an apartment in Waltham. I spent most of my childhood there and I have tons of memories of me and my friends. But, it wasn't as easy for my parents though. They had a never ending war against their bills and rent.

My father came to the U.S in the 80s from El Salvador. He went back in 2002 to help guide my mom to the U.S as well. It was a fresh start. They didn’t have the money to buy their own place to stay in, so they lived with a friend in Texas. A year later they made their way north to Massachusetts. Two years later, they had me. My parents worked as hard as they could to help me live a better life. From the time he lived in El Salvador, my dad loved to watch soccer. That’s how I first started playing. He first taught me how to kick a ball. Then he taught me how to move with the ball. I was just two years old.

My father has taught me almost everything I know about soccer. He taught me more defense than anything else, which makes sense considering he played the position in El Salvador. When we moved to Waltham, the apartment we got had a big grass backyard. This backyard became my backbone. I went outside everyday to play. I started getting better and better and it made me happy that I lived in a place with a large amount of space. It also helped me realize how much the sport meant to me. When I was old enough, maybe 6 or 7 years old, my parents signed me up for the Waltham soccer league. They came to every single game and practice to watch me play. I was so excited when I joined the travel team at 9. My parents took money out of their pockets just to see me have fun. I still remember hearing my mom screaming my name when I scored for the first time. I remember when I scored three goals in one game, and my dad couldn't stop smiling. It meant a lot to me because when it came to soccer, it was difficult to satisfy him. That smile let me know that I was doing great. 

We moved to Lowell on New Years Eve, 2018. I was reluctant, I really didn't want to move. I had a deep connection with Waltham and I knew pretty much everyone. But we were forced to move because our house was going to get foreclosed. The thought of having to start over again was scary to me. Having to go to a whole new school and meet new people sounded overwhelming, but then I joined the soccer team. It was so much fun. The season wasn't very great when it came to winning games, but it was such an experience to just step onto the field everyday with my team. 

Soccer has been there my whole life. It runs deep in my family. Soccer has been passed down from generation to generation in my family. My dad and I grew up with it, it's our connection. It's my getaway from everything, from the movement, the instability, the family problems. It's my pain reliever in a way. Throughout all the movement and tough times in my life, soccer has always been there.

© Jason Martinez. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.