Goalkeeper Gabriela Angoso Jimenez shares her story that has taken her around the world
At four years old, Gabriela Angoso Jimenez started playing soccer in her hometown of Madrid, Spain. Since then, she has played for several teams in Spain, the United States and now, in Canada, for the Concordia Stingers.
Angoso’s grandfather, José Luis Angoso, was a professional soccer player in Spain, but it was her older brother who encouraged her to start playing. At seven years old, Angoso had a trainer who saw she could play goalie, a unique position that requires a special skill set.
“[The trainer] thought I had a good vision of the game and I could demand from my players whatever I thought was necessary [to succeed],” Angoso said. “Being a goalie is very important. You need to be vocal [because you’re] the only person who sees everything [happening] on the field.”
Angoso said she’s a good player overall, but her best skill is encouraging her teammates. As a goalie, she’s often isolated behind the rest of her team, but said she loves the team atmosphere and the rush when she plays.
“[You’re] never alone, even when you feel like you are,” Angoso said.
Angoso showcased her talent at 11 years old when her team, Real Madrid feminine, played against Atletico Madrid’s youth women’s team. She played as the starting goalie in a game she wasn’t originally supposed to play in, given she was the backup goalie at the time. The day before the game, the other goalie got injured, so Angoso replaced her. Her team won the game and ended up winning the league, with Angoso bringing home the title of Most Valuable Player for that game.
Between the ages of 16 and 18, Angoso lived in Montreal with her sister, and played soccer for Lower Canada College and the Lakeshore Soccer Club. She said her sister is her biggest supporter. Despite their 11-year age difference, and her sister now living in Vancouver, Angoso said they keep in touch daily and are very similar.
“We love adventure,” Angoso said. “She was one of the reasons I moved to Montreal in the first place. We think alike. We love change and new experiences.”
After living in Montreal with her sister, Angoso got a soccer scholarship for one year at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. While attending the school, her main focus was on playing soccer. She said studying at an American university wasn’t difficult on her academics because there was a bigger emphasis on playing soccer than studying. Now, a student-athlete at Concordia, she knows she has to set time aside to study in order to do well in school.
“I didn’t know how it was going to be coming here from the States,” Angoso said. “I used to play three times a day and would feel pressure [to not let my team down].” Now, at Concordia, she only dedicates about 20 hours a week to soccer. “It’s not as stressful, and I can still enjoy it.”
Regarding academics, Angoso originally wanted to study physical therapy, but her dad changed her mind. She is now studying psychology at Concordia. She has always valued his opinion the most, and he has always guided her in what to do—like moving to Montreal at the age of 16 to live with her sister.
“My mom was super opposed to it, but he thought it was the best thing to do, and so he kind of made me see what a great opportunity I had here,” Angoso said. “[Another example was] when I didn’t know where to transfer last year, but he told me it wasn’t about the present anymore, but about what I wanted to do in the future.”
Angoso said psychology is a field that relates to soccer and “how a goalie is different from other positions,” because it requires mental strength as well as physical strength. She’s also very curious about how the brain works. Once she finishes her studies at Concordia, she wants to get her master’s and PhD. Angoso said she hopes to become a sports psychologist.
Off the field, Angoso is a little bit shy. But once she opens up, she enjoys new activities, experiences and travel. Having lived in different places, Angoso “feels like [she’s] changed to adapt to make new friends and have a social life.”
Angoso said she can’t imagine not playing soccer. But if she wasn’t playing the sport, she said she would have still been doing some form of physical activity to keep busy. One of her hobbies is biking, and she tries to bike everywhere, if the weather permits.
In terms of pre-game rituals, Angoso always wears the same two pairs of socks and listens to the same five songs: “Born to Lose” by the cast of the TV show Empire, “Waves” by Kanye West, “Mi Gente” by J Balvin, “Silence” by Marshmello, and “Unforgettable” by French Montana.
Main photo by Alex Hutchins