Last month, D.C. United rookie Miguel Aguilar joined Foundation staff members at an event here in Washington, DC. Miguel shared his story about being raised in an underserved community, how soccer became an outlet that transformed his life, and how his coach, who became his mentor and father-figure, encouraged him to stay in school and to follow his dreams. Miguel shared, “Soccer was the thing that kept me from going astray and the thing that kept me aligned.” He spoke candidly about hardships he faced growing up, and his commitment to overcoming the academic struggles he faced as a young student, but also of his joy and passion for the game.
Miguel has since found success in the classroom and on the soccer field. He graduated with honors from the University of San Francisco and was then drafted in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft. The budding soccer star has undoubtedly found success, but more importantly, he has embraced the game as a way to give back to his community. Recently, Miguel returned home to his alma mater to talk with students about the importance of academics and remembering one’s roots. He now serves as an inspiration and a role model to the younger generation.
In many ways, Miguel’s story reminds me of many of the children we engage through our Soccer for Success program and serves as a good reminder of just how big an impact soccer can have beyond the field. Miguel’s story is just beginning and I’m excited to see what the next chapter has in store.