Midfielder is training to secure a roster spot for the U-17 World Cup
For Jade Martinez, playing soccer on an international stage is about more than individual achievement.
The past three years spent in the Mexican national program have given the former Parish Episcopal student an enhanced perspective on and off the field.
“Representing Mexico is something that I value a lot,” Martinez said. “Putting on the jersey has motivated me to practice my Spanish and learn more about their culture, and also to get closer to my dad’s side of the family.”
Martinez, a center midfielder, is training to make the final roster for the Mexican team in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, which starts on Oct. 11 in India.
The Dallas native was playing for her father, Juan, on the Dallas Kicks youth club team when a Mexico scout encouraged Jade to pursue dual citizenship so she could try out for the national program.
After completing that process, Jade made her debut in a Mexico jersey in 2019, playing at the under-15 level at the Dallas International Girls Cup.
An injury cut short that appearance, but the national program has called her into training several times since. However, the extensive workout schedule and the travel back and forth to Mexico City caused an academic strain.
Martinez left Parish as a sophomore in late 2021 to enroll in a homeschool program, although she hasn’t ruled out rejoining her classmates before she graduates.
“I was missing a lot, and it was going to be too much for me to catch up,” she said about the decision. “At first, it was kind of difficult because it was so different. Now I have my computer with me 24/7 to do my schoolwork.”
Since joining the Mexican program, the highlight for Martinez was a tour of exhibition games in Spain, Italy, and the Czech Republic.
“It was a blessing. I’m very grateful for the opportunity,” said Martinez, who has verbally committed to play college soccer at Baylor. “I never believed I would be able to travel to places like that. I’ve made so many friendships.”
More recently, she played in a World Cup pre-qualifying tournament in the Dominican Republic that included matchups against the United States, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, and others.
If chosen for the World Cup roster, Martinez would travel with her teammates to Europe in early October for some friendly games before heading to India.
“Going to the World Cup would be a big accomplishment,” she said. “It will prepare me for what’s to come next in college or even after college. It also means a lot to me outside of soccer.”