Deyna Castellanos paves her own path in the world of football
The driven Venezuelan forward has excelled at every level of the game, winning championships while breaking down barriers for women in the sport. The eyes of the world are upon her now as she captains her national team in the 2022 Copa América Femenina—and inspires a new generation of players.
For many fans watching the 2022 Copa América Femenina, Deyna Castellanos is more than just the captain of the Venezuelan women's national football team. She's an inspiration for women and girls around the world who want to make their own mark on the traditionally male-dominated sport.
"Paving the way for thousands of girls is priceless to me," Castellanos says.
It's a responsibility she's carried for most of her 23 years on earth, as she was a standout almost from the moment she stepped onto the field. Her earliest dream was to join the "Vinotinto" Venezuelan national team, and she was determined to make it come true, no matter the challenges.
Her talent and love of football grew at home and on her neighbourhood school's playing field. There, she could pursue her passion freely without feeling judged for playing a sport that was typically presumed to be only for men.
By 2009, the 10-year-old represented the state of Aragua in national competitions, wowing the crowds with her speed, footwork, and goal-scoring ability. Before long, the name Deyna Castellanos was known across Venezuela, where she was awarded the prestigious Orden Samán de Aragua and Orden Negra Hipólita and recognised as 2014's Young Athlete of the Year. She became the captain of her national team at 14 and won two U-17 South American championships, scoring 14 memorable goals.
After this succession of triumphs, the forward decided to take her skills to the United States, where she attended Florida State University on a scholarship. Castellanos debuted in 2016 as a top scorer and helped her team win the East Coast Conference championship. Attracting the attention of international scouts, she was drafted by the Atlético de Madrid club, where she made her debut in February 2020.
Today, Castellanos is currently playing for FA Women's Super League club Manchester City, one of the world's most prestigious teams. Though she's far from her home in Venezuela where she got her start, she never lost the passion that put her on the field. Venezuela's number 9 jersey keeps growing professionally every day, focused on paving the way for new generations of women who, like her, have a true love for football.