26-year-old Coach Uses Lessons from Sports-based Exchange in Life and with Team
Vanessa Arauz has blazed a trail of firsts leading up to becoming head coach of Ecuador’s Women’s National Soccer Team.
As a child, she was the only girl on her local soccer teams in Guayaquil, Ecuador. She is the first female soccer coach certified by the Ecuadorian Soccer Federation’s official coaches training center. Now, she leads Ecuador in it’s first-ever Women’s World Cup appearance and, at 26, is the youngest coach to ever head a World Cup team.
There is another first that Arauz credits with helping her reach this important pinnacle in international soccer. In 2011, she left her home country for the first time and traveled to the United States as one of twenty-five Ecuadorians and Colombians selected to the U.S. State Department sponsored Youth Sports Management Exchange program.
“My trip to the United States is part of my success. It opened the doors of the world for me,” says Arauz.
Arauz continues to use lessons she learned in the U.S. with the national team. For example, A Ganar, a Partners-led youth-employment-through-sport program, taught her how to run practice sessions in which players must play without talking, a drill Arauz uses to teach the national team about the value of non-verbal communication.
When asked about the World Cup this summer in Canada, Arauz acknowledges that Ecuador has a tough challenge. They are placed in Group C along with defending champion Japan. “We are trying to win,” says Arauz, “this is the world’s first time seeing the Ecuadorian women’s team, and we want to show our best.”
Approaching perhaps the biggest challenge of her life, Arauz is guided by a lingering lesson from her trip to the United States. While in Kentucky, she read the famous John F. Kennedy quote imploring Americans to help their nation, but has since adapted it for use with her team: “Don’t ask what your team can do for you but rather what you can do for your team.”
A trailblazing individual, leading a trailblazing team, Vanessa Arauz is ready to take on the world stage.