I held my own on a football pitch—I still do.
I spent a good portion of my 23 years training, competing, and chasing the football around.
When I was young, the ball bounced in many directions, taking me out of my hometown in South Florida to different cities and different countries—far out of my comfort zone. I met new people, heard new stories, and learned that a bouncing ball is a language everyone understands.
The ball kept bouncing. I chased it all the way down to my mother’s home country of Panama, where I was invited to train with Panama’s under-17 national team. A week-long trial turned to two weeks, which turned to three, and four, and five, and six.
Seven months later, I was in the United Arab Emirates with the team preparing for our first match of the 2013 FIFA under-17 World Cup.
Two years after that, I left my team at Villanova University in the US, to join Panama’s under-20 national team for the 2015 FIFA under-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
Chasing the ball took me from the US to Central America, to South America, Europe, and the Middle East, all in preparation for these major tournaments. But as I travelled, I started to take note of the stories I was encountering—both my own stories and those of people I met.
I bought a notebook and started carrying a camera around. When I wasn’t on the football pitch I was writing, taking pictures, or shooting video. I started to tell stories.
When I graduated from college a semester early in December 2017, I was given the opportunity to continue chasing the ball as a professional. I was selected in the MLS Superdraft by Seattle Sounders FC. I joined the team for their preseason training, but my efforts did not result in a full time contract. I watched the 2018 MLS season from home.
I held my own on the pitch—I still do—but I wanted to tell stories.
In two decades of becoming a top-tier athlete, I learned to wake up early, to push myself, to focus, and to be relentless. I started to write, shoot, edit, and produce. And what I learned in my days on the football pitch came with me.
Again, pursuing my aspirations—this time new aspirations—led me to new places.
I am currently a social videos producer at Al Jazeera English in Doha, Qatar. I’m accumulating skills in visual storytelling. I produce content for digital platforms, like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. I write scripts, shoot videos, edit sequences, and ultimately create engaging, informative content. I produce daily videos as well as long-form explainer pieces. I re-version television and written content into videos for a digital medium. And, as I refine my storytelling skills, I watch as journalists around me tell stories through their respective media and their respective platforms.
As I work toward new aspirations, I find myself encountering more stories. I find that there are incredible stories hidden in far-away corners of the world. And, I find that there are incredible stories hidden within my father, my mother, my brothers, and other people in plain sight. There are voices waiting to be heard—human voices that think their stories are just facts of life or that they are not good enough for the faultless social media façade. I want to tell these stories.
I am still the same competitive player I once was. But, I’m here to tell stories now. I am here to engage, to change, to challenge.
I am here to tell stories.
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