Tuesday 23 July 2019, 16:16

The pizza-and-movie Sunday that got Camila trailing Tobin

  • Tobin Heath inspired a Venezuelan to chase her dream

  • She put on 30lbs in four months while saving for it in England

  • Camila, a U-20 international, is now thriving on a US scholarship

It was customary Sunday chills for Camila, then 15, in Valencia, Carabobo, northern Venezuela.

“I always use to go to my best friend’s house on weekends – eat pizza, watch movies,” she told FIFA.com of that 2015 evening. “But we literally had no movie to watch, so I was flicking through the TV channels.

“There was nothing on, but then I saw, ‘Women’s World Cup Final, USA vs Japan’. I screamed, ‘Why did no-one tell me this was going on!?’ I was so hyped! I freaked out.

“That game changed my life. I fell in love with the USWNT. Their game, sportsmanship, technique, passion. I knew all about men’s soccer, but I became obsessed with women’s soccer. I spent all my time Googling everything about it. I began following the players on social media.

“I’d thought a lot about giving up trying to become a soccer player, but that day I decided I was going to do anything to make it.

“Tobin [Heath] inspired me so much. She was, she is, an amazing player. Her skills are incredible, and she works really hard and is always encouraging her team-mates.

“But her personality off the field makes me admire her even more. She doesn’t care about the attention. I really wanted, and still want, to be like Tobin.”

Camila Pescatore began playing football when she was six and, at only 13, was called into a Venezuela U-17 training camp.

“I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a Venezuela national team at the time,” she recalled. “I didn’t believe my coach until I actually got to the camp. But I didn’t make the cut. They said I was too small. I was crushed.

“The thought of quitting crossed my mind a couple of times, but when I saw the 2015 Final, I was determined to get a soccer scholarship in the US. Even after I didn’t make it to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2016, and had to hear everyone telling me I was good enough, asking me why I wasn’t there, I was still determined to emulate Tobin.”

Camila’s tenacity was rewarded with a call-up to the Venezuela squad for the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup France 2018 qualifiers, but she still faced a US scholarship roadblock: “It cost money and my family didn’t have it.”

Camila’s mom Italia, however, made an almighty sacrifice: she moved to the country after which she was named to save money for her daughter to fulfill her dream. The attacking midfielder, then 18, found a club, in the form of Leyton Orient, and a job in England and off she went. Things did not, however, work out as planned at first.

“I went from training twice a day in Venezuela to training once a week in England,” Camila explained. “I was working 12 hours per day in a coffee shop. They had free food sometimes, when it was going out of date, so I used to eat a lot of it because I had no money. It was all unhealthy.

“I put on 30lbs in four months. Then suddenly I got offers for college scholarships. I chose William Carey University. They’d seen videos of me from before I put on weight, so I was really, really worried they’d look at me in person and reject me.

“But they didn’t, and fortunately I’ve worked really hard, lost weight and things have been going really well. I want to win titles with my college every year I’m here.”

Camila’s ambitions certainly don’t end there: “I want to help Venezuela reach the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. I'd like to play in the NWSL or in Spain. I’d really like to play for the Houston Dash. And it would be incredible to play against Tobin. Maybe we can even play together one day.”

Time will tell whether Heath and Pescatore take to the same turf together. With Camila’s spellbinding skills, socks rolled down to her ankles and No17 on her back – “I begged the coach to let me wear that number” – she’s nevertheless guaranteed to bring a bit of Tobin Heath to every stadium she graces.

Camila Pescatore