As one of eight community leaders across the U.S. being honored by the United Soccer Coaches, Yunio Martinez is being awarded their LGBTQ+ & Allies Award of Excellence.
These USC awards honor an individual, organization or other entity that has shown a commitment and outstanding work on behalf of the values of each respective group, meeting the association’s highest ideals of inclusion and diversity in the game.
The award will be presented to Martinez (He|Him) at the 2022 Coaches Communities Awards of Excellence at the Advocacy Hour on Friday, January 13st. 4:00pm during the 83rd annual United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania before Martinez flys out to Las Vegas for the Sin City Classic.
At the beginning of the Covid lockdowns in 2020, Martinez came up with an idea for a soccer tournament in his Philadelphia area – Kicking Out Transphobia – to raise both awareness and money for the local transgender community. That first year included both a men’s and a non-binary division. It was so successful that Kicking Out Transphobia became the “second annual,” adding not only a women’s and non-binary division but also two more organizations: Philly PALS and Kensington Soccer Club.
This year marked their third successful event with even larger teams of mens/nonbinary and womens/non-binary athletes. The organizers have added new partners: The Philadelphia Falcons LGBTQIA+ Soccer Team and CASA Loccer League, and their money raising efforts now include trans, intersex and non-binary charities.
This is quite the turnaround from the little boy growing up in Guatemala who wasn’t all that interested in playing soccer at school. Martinez started playing at age seven only to avoid being bullied and called gay. But as he grew up, it turns out he is gay and at age 18 his parent kicked him out of the house because of it. Fortunately, his sister lives in the U.S. and has always been one of his big supporters.
Once here, he Googled gay soccer and that’s how he joined his LGBTQ+ soccer club, the Philadelphia Falcons. While playing with them, he says he learned how to love himself and stop worrying about what others think about him. “It’s been more than 10 years and now” he says, “I want everyone to play the sport” that helped him live an authentic life here in the U.S. He is passionate about helping others to learn the game: putting on coaching seminars, acting as membership director for the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association (IGLFA), the DEI officer for the CASA Soccer League, Captain organizer and Fundraiser Officer for the Falcons, and more.
But Martinez really wants people to understand each of the different communities within the LGBTQIA+ umbrella, noting that he didn’t always understand them all when he was younger. He believes that by playing “the beautiful game” in a format like Kicking Out Transphobia, people start to interact with one another and discover that we’re all just people. He hopes you’ll decide to participate in an event like this one.
This weekend at the Sin City Classic, Martinez is helping organize the first all trans/nonbinary soccer match ever to be contested. The match will take place on Saturday, January 14th at 4pm. Players of all abilities are welcome to sign up and participate, with more information available by clicking here.
“I’m excited of all the support for our allies and for Philadelphia region area organizations like Icarus FC And Valley Forge Sports for supporting this initiative thanks to them all the players will be wearing special jerseys. It’s like saying from Philly to Las Vegas,” Martinez shared.