ASU soccer's Alexia Delgado embraces her Mexican heritage

Delgado is one of eight international players on the Sun Devil squad

The flag of Mexico, the No. 8 and the word ‘mafia’ written out in Arabic: These are the markings that adorn the shin guards of ASU freshman midfielder Alexia Delgado.

Piecing them together keeps Delgado's Mexican pride tucked away in her socks.

Delgado, a native of Jalisco, Mexico, has played with her country on her mind and the No. 8 on her back since 2014, when she competed with the Mexico team at the Summer Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China.

She continued with the team at the FIFA 2016 Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan, and went on to captain the Mexico team at the 2018 Under-20 Women’s World Cup in France.     

Delgado said the word ‘mafia’ referred to six of her closest teammates while competing in Jordan.

“We were a small, close group within the selection,” Delgado said. 

Delgado said that while competing in Jordan, she picked up the custom-made shin guards, which she has worn on the Sun Devil pitch every day since.

ASU freshman midfielder Alexia Delgado (8) poses for a photo with her custom shin guards at the Sun Devil Soccer Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018.

Delgado is one of several international students playing on the ASU women's soccer team, many of whom she has kept close ties with since competing with them at international tournaments. 

"Me and Eva (Van Deursen, a native of the Netherlands and freshman midfielder) have kept a close relationship since I knew we would be playing at the World Cup," Delgado said. "Since joining the Sun Devils, it's been easier knowing she would be here." 

Read More: Freshman Force: Meet ASU soccer's talented international freshmen

Reaching far beyond Delgado’s own Hispanic heritage and connecting with athletes of other nationalities has allowed her to not only develop close relationships among her teammates at ASU but has also allowed her to grow as an individual.

“Apart from learning about one’s culture, we suddenly start teaching each other words in our own language,” Delgado said. “On the pitch, they might have a form of playing they share with me that makes me grow.”

Together, Van Deursen and Delgado have helped build a budding freshmen class, accounting for nine points this season.

"Since I was really young, I wanted to play in America, and I talked to a lot of (coaches in the U.S.)," Van Deursen said earlier this season. "I talked (with people) to understand where can I get the best out of myself."

For head coach Graham Winkworth, the team's melting pot dynamic has not gone unnoticed. 

“I watch them warming up … and I’m seeing players from all over the world just like sisters out on the soccer pitch,” Winkworth said. “We all speak the same language in soccer.”

The team has eight international players from seven different countries: Canada, Mexico, Japan, Brazil, the Netherlands, Germany and England. 

“It’s so much fun when I see a Dutch young lady and a Mexican young lady joined at the hip,” Winkworth added. “It’s so nice that they can be so close, and I’m overwhelmed by how quickly that happened.” 

Although Saturday's postponed match against the No. 1 Stanford Cardinal would have honored Hispanic Heritage, Delgado said having something — even an item as simple as shin guards — that celebrates her country reminds her where she's from and where she's been.

"Being Mexican gives me so much pride," Delgado said. "To have something that characterizes my country makes me remember where I am from."

Reach the reporter at or follow @Noriega_Edith on Twitter. 

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