Liz Angeles, more than just a player
The Mexican went from being homeless and in dire straits financially to being a professional footballer
The catalyst for change was the Homeless World Cup of 2015
She tells her story and reveals her latest personal and professional goals
If four years ago you had told Lizbeth Angeles that she would end up making a living from football, she would undoubtedly have laughed at you. At that time, she was 24-years-old and there was not even a professional women's league in Mexico.
But life is full of twists and turns and, in the intervening years, she not only made her dream come true, but became an example and inspiration for other young women, who now believe that they too can achieve their goals. FIFA.com spoke about all this and more in an exclusive chat with the Pachuca forward.
Football, a loyal companion
Liz, as she is affectionately known, fell in love with football as a small girl growing up in southern Mexico City. As she got older, football became the pastime that helped her navigate some of the most difficult moments in her life. As a young adolescent, some friends invited her to participate in a tournament called De la calle a la cancha (From the street to the pitch), which was when everything – her life, her goals, her work – began to change.
A host of women in challenging and adverse economic situations from all over Mexico competed for one of the seven places on the national team that would take part in the Homeless World Cup Amsterdam 2015.
"I started at municipal level and then represented the State of Mexico at the national tournament. We ended up as champions, and there, in front of everyone who’d gone to see the game, they chose the seven best players. That's when I heard my name."
She travelled to Europe and wore the captain’s armband as her team became champions. "It’s hard to explain how much that World Cup meant: being able to represent your national team against so many countries is something unique. But winning it and hearing the Mexican national anthem was simply the best."
Her on-field attributes paved the way for a job with the Federal Police, where she juggled her investigative duties with her footballing ones. In 2017, when news came that a Women’s Liga MX was being created, it spiked her interest in the possibility of playing professionally.
"The truth is that it seemed a distant possibility, as my age by then was working against me. However, I kept on going until I got myself an opportunity to make it happen."
She applied for a six-month leave of absence from the police and went to Pachuca to follow her dream. "I wasn’t that confident about it all but, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Now I’ve already been with them for a year and I’ve developed a great deal. I’m very satisfied to be part of this club."
Her self-belief grew with each goal scored and, with 19 now to her name, it would be logical to think about a national team call-up. Liz, however, is not limiting her dreams to that alone. "My ultimate aim is to represent my national team and compete at a World Cup, although obviously I’m not focused much on that. I know that if at some point they call me, I’ll be more than willing. My goal now is to focus on improving here in Pachuca. And while I still have much to learn, I’d like to be an example to the next generation of girls."
Dreams fulfilled and new goals to achieve
The message she would like to send those girls is very clear: "Never stop dreaming. If the first one doesn’t come to pass, keep trying. In life there will be lots of challenges and hurdles along the way, but you’re the only one who can overcome the obstacles preventing you from realising your dreams."
She herself is living proof that you can make things happen, but what does the future hold? "I’m studying to be a fitness coach, as another aim is to work with a team at a later point. I’ll always be involved in football," she says proudly after realising another long-held dream – that of studying at university.
Just how far can the player go, and how many goals could she score for that matter? Only time will tell but, what is certain is that, thanks to her, many young people are today dreaming of a different future. And that is already one of the most valuable rewards anyone can have.