South LA teen soccer player calls for more diversity in women's pro soccer

BOYLE HEIGHTS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Nayelli Barahona, a 15-year-old soccer player with the Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club, has big goals in life and wants to change the face of soccer.

"Both my parents are from El Salvador," Nayelli said.

For Nayelli, seeing the U.S. women's soccer team win the World Cup was an inspirational moment. But she says it was missing something.

"I didn't see anyone that looked exactly like me or not even close like exactly like me," Nayelli said. "They do have some people of color they say, but it's not very as diverse as they make it seem."

Amid calls for equal pay, the team was criticized for its lack of diversity.

"I can't really say that my favorite player is this or that because they don't look like me," said Nayelli. "So, when they win or their accomplishments, I feel like I'm not connected with them so it's hard to relate to them."

The DTLA soccer club is a program that gives young people in underserved communities the opportunity to play.

"With soccer, I want to be able to have the younger generation have someone to look up to," said Nayelli.

By participating in the program, Nayelli hopes to change the face of soccer.

"Be a whole diverse team like I want everyone to be related to someone," said Nayelli. "I want everyone to have a face to look up to, I want someone to be someone's idol."
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