The narrative of women in sports often finds itself relegated to the sidelines. It is our mission to change that, to amplify their accomplishments and to weave a tapestry of stories that inspire and empower. Our weekly column Latin Women in Sports seeks to applaud their triumphs, break down barriers, and champion the idea that in sports, as in life, every voice deserves to be heard.

Marta, Brazil

SEATTLE - Ever since becoming the face of women's soccer at the global level, Marta's story has served as an inspiration for an entire generation. In a country were women's soccer was practically banned between 1941 to 1979, the Brazilian superstar overcame everything that was thrown in her path to climb to the top.

Marta had her first taste of professional soccer at the young age of 14 with Vasco da Gama, playing for two years until her dream was cut short due to the increasing disapproval of Brazilian society towards women's soccer.

But that didn't stop Marta, who went on to become the all-time goal scorer in the history of the Brazilian women's national team, also surpassing Pelé's record in the men's side.

Marta grew up in the small town of Dois Riachos, a municipality located in the east coast of Brazil, along with her four siblings. She didn't have much more than a dream and an old pair of soccer boots.

In a letter written to herself in 2017 for The Players' Tribune, Marta reflected on her journey and how much she had to overcome in order to be one of Brazil's finest. She also had a message for her younger self and for all the girls around the world that were doubted of their talents. Ever since a young age, Marta knew she had a role to play in expanding women's soccer.

But this is just the beginning, because you're going to be part of something else. You're going to be part of changing the women's game. Of showing other girls who felt they didn't belong that they do belong.
Marta, The Players' Tribune - 2017

Perhaps that has been Marta's biggest accomplishment in a hugely successful career: inspiring a generation. During the 2007 Women's World Cup, her goals started a revolution that hasn't stopped since.

With her seven goals and five assists in the tournament, Brazil reached the final for the very first time, eliminating the United States on the way to the final. Her performances in the World Cup earned her the second of six Women's Player of the Year awards, a record in the women's game.

It's amazing how much the game has changed for women. But, in many ways, you'll find it's always going to be just a little bit harder for girls. Leagues and clubs will start and shutter. But one thing you'll find — whether in Brazil, or Sweden, or now, being back in the United States with Orlando Pride — is that every woman shares something: A complicated story ... and a love for football that keeps driving them
Marta, The Players' Tribune - 2017

Although a sad moment for the sport, Marta told CNN Brazil that she will retire from international soccer after the Olympics but that she is at peace with her decision. "I am very calm about this because I see with great optimism this development that we are having in relation to young athletes," she said.

A development that started with the difficult decision of leaving her small town of Dois Riachos, Brazil, Marta's optimism hasn't changed a bit. Twenty one years after her debut with the Brazilian national team, Marta's contribution to the women's game cannot simply be put into words.

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