One more notch for Moreno


WHEN Lourdes Moreno’s mother passed away, it felt like the world had been pulled from under her feet.
She was inconsolable to the point of even being prepared to leave behind what she loved the most — playing football.
“I was depressed and wanted to get away from everything,” Moreno told
“Her death is the hardest thing I’ve been through. When it happened, I decided to retire from football.”
She was only 18 years old, with a brilliant future ahead of her, but at that moment, none of it seemed to matter.
Happily, the story did not end there for Moreno, or ‘La Kika’ as she is known in her native Venezuela.
Her father, with the support of her brothers and sisters, managed to persuade her that giving up was not an option.
“My family made me see sense,” she said.
“They told me that I couldn’t leave it behind, that my mum had always supported me.
“So after five or six months out of the game, when I was called up again for the national team, they convinced me to go back.”
Nearly a year-and-a-half has passed since that moment and now, sitting in her hotel room in Port Moresby, the midfielder is able to smile, as she looks back on a difficult period in her life.
“You never get over it because this is something that you can’t get over and that you can’t forget,” Moreno said.
“But you do learn to live with it.”
Since part of this process consists in drawing inspiration from heartache, there can be nobody more motivated for the start of the Under-20 women’s soccer World Cup.
Venezuelan expectations are high and, on a personal note, La Kika is on the brink of making history: none of her compatriots can claim to have captained Venezuela in two World Cups.
“To tell the truth, it’s a big responsibility,” she admitted. “I’m grateful to the coaching team and my teammates for all the support and the trust they’ve shown in me.”
With Moreno wearing the armband, Venezuela surprised onlookers by claiming fourth place at the 2014 Fifa U17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.
The current U17 squad repeated the trick with another fourth-place finish a couple of weeks ago in Jordan, and the captain is aiming for a repeat showing in PNG.
“To be there at the end, when the World Cup comes to a climax, is our target.
“But we have to take each game as it comes because the group isn’t easy at all.”
Matches against Mexico and South Korea remain for Venezuela after a competitive showing against defending champions Germany in their opening match of group D which they lost 1-3 on Monday.
Only two teams will make it through to the knock-out stages, but La Kika will not let herself be overawed.
“There’s no fear,” she emphasised.
“It won’t be easy for us, but neither will it be for the other sides.
“There’ll be some nerves, as there always are before a game, and we’ll be a little anxious because we’re under pressure to get results, but we’re mentally ready.”
Most importantly, the captain and many of her teammates know exactly how it feels to wait in the tunnel, to take to the field, and to hear the national anthems, as the last thing that this team could be accused of is lacking tournament experience.  In addition to the ‘veterans’ from two years ago in Costa Rica, the squad that has travelled to PNG features players who have performed at the South American championship, the Bolivarian Games and the senior Copa America.
“We’ve got a very good team,” she insisted.
“Here, any of us can take centre stage.”
Fully 14 hours separate the time zones in Venezuela and PNG.
However, do not think for one moment that this will stop the country getting behind their girls again.
“They’re already offering us lots of support back there, and many people have posted that they watched our match against Germany,” Moreno pointed out.
Among them was her entire family, who waited up until two o’clock in the morning on Nov 14 to watch Venzuela’s opening match on television.
“They told me that they’d be pulling all-nighters to watch the matches.
“My whole family will have bags under their eyes,” she chuckled.
Leading her personal fan club will be Juan José, her proud father.
He will be joined by Juan, the older brother with whom she shared her first experiences of playing football in the street, and Yolimar and Yesimar, her two sisters.  According to La Kika, her sisters “could be models or anything else, but not footballers”, yet neither of them will want to miss their sister’s great adventure in this far-off land with La Vinotinto.
Finally, there will be someone else accompanying all of them.
Mother Nuri remains forever in their thoughts, and the midfielder will take her memory on to the pitch in the form of a tattoo carrying her name and date of birth.
“All the goals and all the wins will be for her and my family,” she pledged. –

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