If there's one thing I admire about the SouthCoast, it's the talented people who live here.

There's a 19-year-old New Bedford girl by the name of Jaydah Bedoya who was born and raised in the city. She attended New Bedford High before transferring to Tabor Academy, where she graduated earlier than the average student in 2020 and was accepted at the University of Connecticut.

The sophomore, an impressive soccer player, got picked up by the Ecuadorian National Women's Soccer Team for an opportunity of a lifetime.

Let me repeat that: Bedoya represented a South American country in honor of her heritage.

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How Bedoya Started Playing Soccer With the Best

"My dad was the one who originally reached out to the team's coach. They speak Spanish, so he was the communicator. They asked for highlights and once my dad sent them over it blossomed from there. Next thing I know, I'm looking up flights to go play for the Ecuadorian National Women's Soccer Team."

Courtesy Jaydah Bedoya
Courtesy Jaydah Bedoya
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Getting to Ecuador Not a Walk in the Park

"It was a lengthy process," Bedoya said. "I was supposed to go last year, but the paperwork wasn't ready in time. Once I received it, we were able to take off."

Tough Journey Worth Every Moment

"The flight was very long," Bedoya said. "I went with my grandfather, but I left with my team when I got there and said goodbye to him. Luckily three girls on my team spoke English, but otherwise, it was a bit overwhelming. The first day of practice was difficult because everyone spoke Spanish. I was the outsider, but it gave me a great perspective on everything.

Courtesy Jaydah Bedoya
Courtesy Jaydah Bedoya
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Culture Shock an Eye-Opening Experience

"It taught me a lot about how lucky I am in the U.S.," Bedoya said. "We couldn't go on our phones during dinner, but all in all, a lot of my teammates weren't on their phones in general. It was a fresh breath of air to be quite honest."

Her Skills Were Her Advantage

"The coach asked me if I had any recommendations that I could give to the team because the practices were different there than they normally are in the U.S. They were less intense and I was very surprised. Here in America, we're always running and conditioning, whereas it was more laid back and relaxed there."

Courtesy Jaydah Bedoya
Courtesy Jaydah Bedoya
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Bedoya's First Professional Moments

"I played the final six minutes of the game and it was my first international professional cap. It was fun, and nerve-racking to begin with. I didn't know I was even going to play, but I was willing to play any position my coach assigned me. I ended up taking the field as a mid-wing. It was a rush. I felt like a kid again and just played my heart out. I did whatever I could to help the team and it was the best experience of my life."

Courtesy Jaydah Bedoya
Courtesy Jaydah Bedoya
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The Next Step

"'Copa De America' could be the next trip back for the South American Cup. I'm not quite sure if I'm going yet. It's very far and can be difficult with my academics. Missing school is tough, but I was still keeping up with my homework. As of right now, I'm still deciding if I want to play internationally again, but overall it was a great experience that I'll never forget."

Courtesy Jaydah Bedoya
Courtesy Jaydah Bedoya
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Congratulations to Bedoya on playing a sport she loves internationally. Her skill set, endurance and perseverance have not only put the SouthCoast on the map globally but have made her family ever so proud.

Final Thoughts From Bedoya's Mother:

"It’s almost impossible to put into words just how proud I am. Her hard work, determination and commitment since she was a little girl is incredible and never ceases to amaze me," mother Jolene Bedoya said. "A parent always wants better for their child and considering the traumas that I went through, just knowing how I raised such an amazing, hard-working young woman is such a blessing. I literally get tears in my eyes every single time I see her step on the field. The pride I feel with every single one of her accomplishments is inexplicable."

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