DiDi Haracic plays as a goalkeeper for Sky Blue FC in the National Women’s Soccer League, and for the Bosnia and Herzegovina National Team. In our Q&A with DiDi, she talks about her love for the game, being an out gay athlete, what it’s meant for her to represent the country of her birth, and why she’s excited to join Athlete Ally as a Pro Ambassador.
Athlete Ally: How did you first start playing soccer, and what do you love about it?
DiDi: It’s funny, there’s actually no special reason as to why I started. I had too much energy and mom couldn’t keep up, so she signed me up. At the time, I didn’t know that soccer was going to be my life. But when I turned 10, that’s when I started telling myself and others that I was going to be a professional soccer player.
One of the most memorable experiences of my life was when I was at a Washington Freedom soccer game when I was 13. A random gentleman at the game asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I told him, “I’m going to be a professional soccer player!” He laughed, but now I’m the one laughing, because my vision has come true! I’ve sacrificed a lot in my life to get to where I want to be, and I don’t regret it one bit.
What I love most about soccer are the demands of the game: dedication, teamwork, and those special moments when something astonishing happens. There’s so much emotion in soccer, and that’s something I’m not afraid of hiding.
What was your experience like coming out as a pro athlete?
I came out my sophomore year of college. I was tired of lying to my friends and family, but most importantly, to myself. First I told my best friend, and then my sister. Both of them responded by saying, “Finally!” I then called and told my dad (who passed away in 2015). At first he was hesitant and caught off guard, but he went on to say, “You’re my daughter and whatever makes you happy is what’s important.” He then told my mom, who didn’t take the news very well at first. We didn’t speak for a few weeks and things were a bit uncomfortable. Throughout the years, though, she has come around to support me and accept what I want and feel in my life. She wants me to be happy, and knows that being true to who I am is the key to my happiness.
As for being out in my sport, the support I’ve received in the National Women’s Soccer League has been amazing! I’m blessed to be surrounded by a great group of empowering women who support the LGBTQ community, and also those who share their experiences as out athletes.
What has it been like to represent your home country on the Bosnian National Team?
I was born in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. I wanted to represent the country where my journey began. In 1994, I came to the United States due to the war. Once I became a pro soccer player, I had the opportunity to play for the Bosnian National Team. Not only did this give me the opportunity to represent my country, but I also was able to go see my entire family that I hadn’t seen since I was 2! It was an emotional and unforgettable experience. I finally went home to where I came from. I saw what the war did to this beautiful country, yet it still stands strong. It’s an honor to play for my home. I may have been raised in the United States, but it’s true what they say: “There’s no place like home.” I was able to see where my journey began not only as a soccer player but as an individual.
Why do you think LGBTQ representation and visibility is important in sports?
The prevalent images we see of athletes are of those who are strong, determined, masculine, aggressive and so much more. But athletes are not the only ones that encompass these characteristics, and not all athletes fit these molds. We are all determined in our own way. We are all strong for being who we are and speaking up for those who may not be heard or are not ready to be heard. Sports have always united inspiring people. It has been and continues to be a platform to bring together all people, including the LGBTQ community.
What is your hope for LGBTQ inclusion in sports?
I’d like to see the LGBTQ community represented every day, and not just during Pride month. Every day, individuals are fighting a battle within themselves. We all deserve love and to be loved every second of every day.
Why are you excited to work with Athlete Ally?
I’m excited to work with Athlete Ally because I too was once tired of not living to my full potential. I didn’t have this platform, and so to have it now and be a part of uniting people together for who they are is an important part of making our world a better place.
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