In Pursuit of Passion: Marta

For the month of March, Belle de Jour Power Planner is celebrating the lives of…

For the month of March, Belle de Jour Power Planner is celebrating the lives of different women in our current online campaign, “Women Beyond Borders.”  Let’s be inspired by their stories of breaking barriers and making their dreams happen.

Marta Vieira de Silva, more popularly known as Marta, believes she was born to play soccer.

Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Despite life’s hardships and discouragement, Marta went on to become the best female soccer player of all time.

The 33-year-old was born and grew up in Dois Riachos, one of Brazil’s poorest towns. Her passion for the sport began when she was a young girl, playing street games with other children in the neighborhood. That’s when Marta received her share of criticism  “People said football wasn’t for women and that my family shouldn’t let me play,” the athlete recounts in an interview with UN Women. “They said I wouldn’t make it, that I wasn’t good enough.”

The same comments reached her mother, who never allowed them to get to Marta. “Let her be,” her mother would tell naysayers.

Marta cites her mother Tereza as her greatest inspiration. After her parents separated when she was less than a year old, Tereza single-handedly raised Marta and her three siblings. She worked all day, barely saw her children, and never gave up. Tereza’s example of perseverance gave Marta the strength to keep going. Despite all that she experienced and heard, Marta continued playing.

Her passion and drive eventually paid off. One day, when she was 14, Marta was discovered by famed football coach Helena Pacheco. She moved to Rio de Janeiro to train with the Vasco da Gama women’s team.

The rest, as they say, is history.

(Reuters: Mike Blake)

Marta (right) is known for her quick feet and flair on the field.

For her flair, quick feet, and exceptional skill in football, Marta has received multiple awards throughout her career. FIFA named her as their World Player of the year six times. She currently holds the record for receiving the most number of all-time awards among male and female soccer players. Currently, she serves as one of the United Nations’ Goodwill Ambassadors for women in sports.

Marta’s life is evidence of passion, grit, and perseverance. She continues to inspire young women to pursue athletics, creating opportunities for them so that they won’t go through what she went through herself.

Her message to women everywhere? “Believe in yourself and trust yourself–because when you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.”


Journaling questions:

Here are some questions that you can reflect on and journal. You can also use these as conversation starters with your friends:

  1. Marta’s mother served as her inspiration for persevering. Is there a woman in your life who is the same for you? How did her life make an impact on yours?
  2. Marta wrote a letter to her 14-year-old self as a way to look back on how far she has gone. Recall a time when you were going through difficulties as a teenager. If you were to write a letter to your younger self, what would you tell her? How would you encourage her to keep going and never give up?