The player from Quisqueyana visited Woso Magazine to review the current situation of the Dominican national team, which is preparing for the qualifying phase for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which starts in September.
Mia Asenjo Mahabirsingh (March 7, 2003 – Valley Stream, New York) Dominican international and player of the UCF Knights, a team that represents the University of Central Florida. She is a player who stands out for her creativity, speed and her great ability to define. At her young age, she is already Dominican soccer history, as she was part of the U-20 team that reached the CONCACAF semifinals, the firts team in both the men’s and women’s categories to achieve this feat. She is considered one of the great promises of Dominican soccer.
Q: How did you start playing soccer?
I started playing soccer when I was 3, but fun fact, I used to lay on the field and watch the kids play. Thank goodness my parents did not give up on me and had me try again at 7 years old. I’ve been playing every day since.
Q: As a player, how would you define yourself?
I would describe myself as a creative player, a leader who is dedicated, resilient and has a growth mindset.
Q: Who is your Football idol or reference?
This has always been a hard question for me to answer because I love so many different players but I have to say that Marta Viera Da Silva is one of my favorites. She implements more than just the tactics and technical parts of the game. She is a performer and entertainer.
Marta is very talented and has been an advocate for always being who you are. I love playing soccer and sometimes we forget through all the pressure and responsibilities that this is supposed to be fun and it is something that is seen and entertainment so why not have fun with it.
Q: Your father is Dominican and your mother is American. How did the option of playing for Dominican Republic come about?
Although only one of my parents is Dominican, I grew up very connected to the culture. I visited my grandparents and family in DR when I was young. I was exposed to everything so when I got the opportunity to be considered for the national team,
I was all in. Now I have to work on learning the language which is a goal of mine. I can understand way better than I can speak.
We did really well in that tournament, making it to the semis for the first time in DR’s history.MIA ASENJO
Q: In 2020 you played the Concacaf with the U-20 National Team. What was it like to play the tournament and what learning did you get out of it?
When I got selected to play with the U20’s in the 2020 CONCACAF tournament I was so excited and so grateful for the opportunity. I was only 16 and had never played on a stage like that. It was also the first time that I had the opportunity to play for something bigger than me.
We did really well in that tournament, making it to the semis for the first time in DR’s history. I am proud that I contributed to that. That team was special, and we laid the groundwork for the team that came after us.
Finally, I learned that representing a country at the highest level is a huge responsibility. We have to lead by example and inspire the next generation of players. Overall, playing in the tournament taught me so many things about myself as a player and about my abilities, but the one thing that I learned that stuck with me the most was that I loved representing the Dominican Republic.
Q: What was it like to be called up to the senior National Team?
Being called up to the senior team had been something that I dreamed about and I didn’t think that it would happen so soon. The first thing that I thought was, wow, I get to play the sport that I love at the highest level possible. It was a huge achievement and honor. I was a bit nervous because I wasn’t sure what to expect but as soon as I started playing, I knew I belonged there.
Once the adrenaline wore off, I was devastated.MIA ASENJO
Q: You debuted on February 18, 2021 with the senior team against Puerto Rico, but, in that game, you suffered a torn ACL and meniscus. I guess the happiness of the debut was cut truncated by this injury, How did you live that moment?
When I played in that game against Puerto Rico in February 2021, I had no idea that my life would be altered so significantly. When the injury happened, I knew immediately that I tore my ACL. I remember falling to the ground, then getting right back up and my teammates made me sit down. I walked off the field by myself and thought maybe I’d still be able to play.My family teases me about that. I guess that’s my drive.
Once the adrenaline wore off, I was devastated. The pain and the surgery were not what I was afraid of, It was the fact that I had to find out who I was and navigate through life without playing the sport that I dedicate all my time to, and I had never done that before in my life.
Q: It’s a hard injury, that involves being stopped for many months. How did you psycologically manage being out for so long?
Yeah, the recovery period is a year but really more. It was definitely a challenge mentally. Honestly, to go from being fully mobile to having to work your way back up simply to walk and run again was tough enough. All I could do is apply the same idea to my recovery as to playing in a tough game.
Stay focused on the goal, lean into your resilience and discipline, work hard and don’t give up. I was blessed to have an amazing support system of family, friends and coaches that had my back the whole way.
Q: You currently play for UCF Knights Women’s soccer. Do you see yourself playing one day in the NWSL?
It’s my dream to play pro! If I were to get the opportunity to play for the NWSL I would 100% take it.
Q: You were named 2020-21 Gatorade Florida Girls Soccer Player of the Year. What did it mean to you to get this award?
Being named 2021 Florida Gatorade Player of the Year meant the world to me. That was a goal I had for myself since I was young. So, to achieve that, really showed me the power of creation and ability to manifest things. It also meant that all the hard work that I put in from a young age paid off.
Q: This season you were included on the American Athletic All-Rookie Team. What does it mean, for your career development, to be included on this team?
To be selected to be a part of the American Athletic All -Rookie team was a blessing. To be included on this team meant a lot of me. It is just the beginning for me and I strive to achieve many more things during my college career.
Q: How do you manage to combine high-performance sports with your studies?
Balancing participating in a high-performance sport and my studies can be difficult for me at times but I’ve been doing it my whole life so I’ve grown to be appreciative of it. It took some time but I had to develop discipline and understand sacrifice. Also, I have multiple goals that are important. I would love to have a pro career but I also want to set myself up for beyond that. I have to be ready for everything so that requires equal effort for both.
Q: Would you like to play in Europe at some point in your career?
If I had the opportunity to play in Europe I would take that opportunity without a doubt. I am very interested in playing in Spain. That would be a dream.
My biggest dream as a soccer player is to win a World Cup!MIA ASENJO
Q: What is your biggest dream as a soccer player?
My biggest dream as a soccer player is to win a World Cup! I want to play at the highest level and contribute to the growth of women’s soccer globally. I want to influence the future generations of female soccer players especially in DR. I also want to be part of the growth of the National Team and to reach the highest level playing in the World Cup and Olympics.
Q: With the arrival of Beni Rubido, the federation bet very strong for the women’s section of the national team, but after his departure, until the arrival of Henry Parra, there was a very long break, where there was no news of the national team and stopped playing games for several FIFA windows. How did the players live this situation?
I was injured and still recovering when Beni was coaching the team. There was a lot of activity during that time and then a break for sure. I think during the time of having no official programming the girls had the opportunity to focus on personal development either through their professional and/or college teams.
With Henry as our coach and the Gold Cup coming up, we are all looking forward to competing and playing together more frequently.
Q: How has the arrival of Henry Parra as coach been? Is his idea very different from that of the former coach or do you maintain a continuist line?
It’s hard to compare because again I was still recovering from my injury and hadn’t played with the team for a while. I think, overall, we keep improving and getting better.
Henry is an amazing coach with a great tactical mind but he also is inspirational and reminds us of intangibles and the bigger picture. He reminds us to play with heart, believe in ourselves and each other, and to go out there and do what we love.
Q: What do you think the Federation should continue to invest in, so that Dominican women’s soccer continues to grow and this also increases the level of the different categories of the national team?
For the National Team, I think trying to develop a structure where we are doing more training centers and talent identification will allow us to sustain what we are already building.
Q: What is your assessment of the first game against Puerto Rico, where you were winning and, in the discount time, you were tied? Do you think that maybe you lack the ability to close the games?
Our first game against Puerto Rico I thought went well. We are still working out some of the kinks, which is why having friendlies is important. The first few minutes of the game were a bit more hectic and there was a lot of transition. Eventually we got into our groove. The second half we were more organized.
The end of the game was tough, things happen in soccer. We definitely can close games. With more time working together we will be able to grow quickly.
Q: What is the main objective of the Dominican National Team in the short term?
The main objective of the team in the short term is to win games and focus on preparing for the Road to the Gold Cup.
Q: In the DR you are defined as one of the greatest promises of dominican soccer, How do you feel about this?
That leaves me speechless. I will do everything in my power to live up to that expectation.
This is huge for the country! It makes me so happy and proud.MIA ASENJO
Q: Last June FIFA announced that next year’s U-17 Women’s World Cup will be played in the Dominican Republic. What does this mean for the country and the development of women’s soccer there?
This is huge for the country! It makes me so happy and proud. Events like this bring money into the country which benefits everyone. DR has everything needed to host these types of events and it’s awesome that everyone gets to see what a beautiful country we get to represent.
Q: Do you see the team with chances of being able to qualify for the Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup?
Absolutely! I know we will!