When Montserrat Flores Maso paces the sidelines of the Montreal Impact’s training centre, she does it with a certain lightness.
But also with the weight of history on her shoulders.
“I feel like I have a responsibility towards other women,” Flores said. “I think I opened the door.”
Flores is the first woman to join the Impact academy’s technical staff, helping shape future Montreal Impact players in the U-8 division.
“It’s pressure,” Flores explained. “To do well for them and to give them the most we can and to go to the next level.”
For Flores, this next level was a decade in the making.
Flores has been coaching since she was just 16 years-old.
The 26 year-old’s resume includes stints with the Concordia Regional Soccer Association and the Lac Saint-Louis Regional Soccer Association.
“I think in the 21st century, it’s time for a woman to have exactly the same space as men in sports,” said Philippe Gajevic, Pre-Academy coordinator and the man who hired Flores.
“Montserrat does have the competence, so I think she deserves 100 per cent to be here.”
And the kids think so, too.
“She helps us get better at soccer,” Kymari replied when asked about “coach Montse,” as kids affectionately call her.
“I love that she’s my trainer,” eight-year-old Omar Cherkaoui said.
“She trains us really well,” exclaimed Antoine Gingras, also eight.
Coaching is a path Flores could have never imagined for herself as a kid.
“Never, never,” she told Global News.
“In Mexico I was a little girl with dresses and Barbies. I was scared of the ball.”
And now a ball is helping her smash glass ceilings.