Women in Sports: As Colombian National Team member and NYC FC Host, Chelsea Cabarcas is living her soccer dreams
Chelsea Cabarcas grew up in New York City as a normal girl with a typical dream. She dreamt of being a soccer player when she was older, and started playing the game at just three-years old. Now 25, Chelsea has made her dream come true and done the impossible. Her journey to becoming an athlete on Colombia’s National Soccer team has been a long one, but in her mind, every second of it was worth it.
At 16, Chelsea had the opportunity to join one of Colombia’s younger teams as a center midfielder and center back. Spending time by herself in the foreign country was difficult, but something completely necessary for her growth. It was hard adapting at such a young age and sometimes she was seen as an outsider, but she rose fast. Cabarcas ignored any doubters and was soon on the National Team, competing in the 2012 Olympics. To this day, she has spent 9 years on the team.
“During camp we have to live out there with the squad. It was tough when I was younger, but as I got older it became kind of like a break from home. I love the country.”
A graduate of hometown Iona College, her freshman season was spent playing for the Stetson Hatters in Florida. Chelsea’s professional soccer career was moving extremely fast at that point and it didn’t look like there was anyway it could slow down. For hours and hours she worked tirelessly. Tragically though, in 2014 a series of injuries riddled her to the sideline. Chelsea underwent three surgeries involving her knee and feared the worst: having to quit the game she loved and had played for years. Unsurprisingly enough, she defied the odds and prevailed. After countless rehab and physical therapy, the soccer field was a realistic dream again. Sadly the complex injury she suffered returned last year, but it won’t be a surprise to anybody when she rejoins the team in 2019.
“It’s been a long process, needless to say. It was terrible, but I’m still getting better.”
In 2016, Chelsea was able to rejoin the Colombian National Team and compete in the Olympics. She quotes this as the biggest accomplishment of her life, factoring in how long of a road she faced and how triumphant it was to step foot on the grass again.
“My biggest accomplishment was getting back on the National Team and playing a legit game with them after my first injury. That was really cool, especially traveling to Venezuela. That was like the highlight of my life.”
The amazing part of Cabarcas is that she is so much more than a soccer player and athlete. With her time off during rehab, modeling became her new hobby. Picked up by a New York City agency, she was able to get a lot of experience in front of the camera.
Additionally, it was during this time that she found her love for reporting and hosting. It began with Hot 97 giving her some air time. Following that, multiple massive media agencies decided to work with her, even with the opportunity of being featured on ESPN Deportes. Those experiences have led to where she is today.
“I used to work on Shade 45 on SiriusXM. I’m a hip-hop head and started my broadcasting career with Hot 97. They’re the ones who built the platform for me, and it’s where everything started. It gave me the chance to get on camera, on air.”
ONE World Sports and Complex both gave her time in a media environment, but now she is moving onto bigger things. Another side gig that the young star has is being an analyst for the National Women’s Soccer League, something that she calls surprisingly difficult and much different than sideline work. Recently Chelsea was hired to be the in-stadium host for the New York City Football Club. This means interviewing players, sideline reports, interacting with fans, running events during games, and more.
“I literally just signed a contract with them [NYCFC], as the new in-stadium host. I am extremely excited because it is my city, and being able to represent it is a great opportunity. I get to do in-stadium promos, formal interviews on and off the field, sideline reporting, give out prizes, and be the stadium voice.”
With such a busy schedule, much of her time is still devoted to soccer. Chelsea originally planned on retiring in 2019, but is just letting life take its course. Recalling how life all comes down to fate, she has decided to keep playing until her body no longer allows her. This means she will have the chance to compete in the 2019 Women’s World Cup once again for Colombia, barring injury.
“I really do not know when I am going to retire. The original plan was next year, but you just never know. So, I do want to get into media and broadcasting full-time.”
With such a strong love for entertaining people, in 10 years Chelsea plans to be hosting a national television show and maybe still playing soccer. Or the world might see a chef, as also she has a very strong passion for food and cooking!
Whichever road the rest of Chelsea’s life takes, it can be almost guaranteed that she will be successful. Her biggest inspiration was her parents, simply due to how much they worked to allow her success. She will take their wisdom and continue being a strong role model to thousands of young adults, being living evidence that literally anything is possible with hard work.
“Don’t give up. Trust your journey. When times get tough, keep your head up. Stick with it, you know. You’ll get there by being consistent. It’s not easy but if you stick to it and know what you want to do, you’ll be good. Don’t ever take no for an answer.”