My biggest self esteem crisis is that I’m not a useful person. I can take a pretty picture, YAY! Not solving world hunger. I’m pretty good at Crossfit, WOOHOO! Not helping anybody, unless you need me to handstand push-up someone to death, then I’m your girl.

But during the last volunteer program I started to get over that. I realized there really is value in being able to tell someone’s story through photos. 

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And my permanent existential crisis is that I’m not doing enough. That I’ve been given SO MUCH in this life and I’m not fulfilling my duty to give what I can back.

I finally posted on Facebook that I was looking for a new organization that might need help in the photo department, and a friend, Macarena, suggested Futbol Mas. She was right, they are the PERFECT fit for me.

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Playing sports has always been one of my biggest passions in life, particularly soccer. As a kid I was a giant geek. But, I had an affinity for sports. I played soccer from age 5 and on. I credit hitting the field day in and day out, in the rain, the snow, the humidity, the heat, for teaching me a lot of life’s important lessons. I was blessed to have amazing coaches and teammates, I found something to believe in and I also found people who believed in me.  Futbol Mas 07

Imagine being the world’s biggest book nerd in a high school of 2,000 people. I liked myself a lot, but I wasn’t sure where I fit in. Like most adolescents, I was uncertain of my identity within the hierarchy.

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But I was good at soccer — I played varsity from freshman year on, I was captain as a sophomore, named MVP — and that sense of badassness carried over into all aspects of my life. So I’m a band nerd too. My cumberbund looks hot, WHAT?! You don’t like my flute?! And yeah, I DO like to play the piano and I DO love my AP English class. SUCK IT. Playing a sport gave me a sense of belonging. Futbol Mas 10

Futbol Mas does exactly that. They use soccer to empower kids and families in low-income neighborhoods. Soccer keeps them busy and off the streets. Soccer gives them a sense of belonging. Soccer helps them believe in their own self-worth. Futbol Mas 11

Their mission: Form resilience in boys, girls and adolescents that live in the context of socioeconomic vulnerability.  Futbol Mas 12

I could not believe more in what they do.

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So I started off my volunteer work with them with a bang a couple of weekends ago! They had their end of the year championship tournament. They brought in kids from the leagues that they have literally from all over Chile. Futbol Mas 15

It was some of these people’s first time on a plane.

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They came with full on flags, wigs, face paint and everything. The kids played like their lives depended on it. The parents cheered like their lives depended on it. And the sportsmanship was incredible.

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I didn’t see one ugly tackle, I didn’t see one outburst against the ref. I saw nothing but pride and love and smiles.  Futbol Mas 20 Futbol Mas 21 Futbol Mas 22

I left feeling all of the joy of the universe inside me. These are kids that are going places. I’m so proud of everyone that participated in this incredible event. Congratulations to all, especially to Belen and the rest of the Futbol Mas staff, for making this happen. Futbol Mas 23 Futbol Mas 24

Huge shout out to Fernando Ramirez, a fellow wedding photographer in Santiago, who stepped to the plate in a BIG way when I asked my network of contacts who could photograph the first day of the event on Saturday, because I had to work. Un gran fotografo con un gran corazon.

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