This is not the story I wanted to write about Marbella Ibarra.
I’d much rather be writing an article about how she helped build the women’s game in Mexico. How Liga MX Femenil has been built largely upon her work and how that is slowly awakening a slumbering giant in women’s soccer.
I’d rather ask her what it means to see the fruits of her labors. About why she took the profits from her beauty salon and started a team for women. I’d ask where she found the courage to field the Xolas de Tijuana and have them play in the United States’ Women’s Professional Soccer League because her native Mexico didn’t have a women’s pro league.
I’d ask her about how she felt seeing Liga MX Femenil grow even while her Xolos Femenil struggle this season. How she felt seeing the Clásico Regio earlier this year become the highest attended women’s professional soccer match anywhere in the world ever.
Instead I have to write about the ugly way her life ended. Kidnapped, tortured, and killed. Dumped in Rosarito to be found. Another statistic in Mexico’s never ending war. I have to roll out the trope of Tijuana being a dangerous city, of Mexico being a dangerous place. This will just serve as fodder to confirm the worst fears of those who already harbored dark suspicions about Mexico and her people.
I’m trying to make sense of it all. Just as the spark of women’s soccer had finally taken hold in Mexico, the life of it’s greatest pioneer was stolen when she had given so much to her city and her country.