Naomi Girma: Grassroots to Glory

'I wanted to be him' - Rising USWNT star Naomi Girma credits her brother for inspiring her journey to the Women's World Cup

San Diego Wave defender and rising USWNT star Naomi Girma didn't imagine a professional career in soccer until her family proved to be the inspiration behind her drive as a child. Fast forward to the present day, and she's representing her country and family on the national stage.

"I started playing at Maleda Soccer, which is an Ethiopian group that my father formed with some of his friends," she told GOAL. "My dad and my brother influenced me a lot… my Dad loved playing growing up and my brother just started playing and I wanted to be him."

At age 14, Girma was scouted while trying out for the U.S. Olympic Development Program and her career took off from there.

“I think that first camp was the first time I saw like they show you like a pyramid and they're like: 'Okay like you're at Under 14,  there's U17 World Cup, U20 World Cup, there's a U23 team.' That's when I first saw like, oh there's a whole system for the national team and so I think that was really big for me, just to see that there was a pathway that players had followed before and that I could follow, too.

"I think you also know so many people are here right now that won't be there on the senior team, so that first camp was big just to realise that it was possible and then the work started from there.”

Girma’s first official senior team callup was when she was in College at the University of Stanford during the Covid-19 pandemic. Upon arrival at the camp, players had to isolate themselves in their own rooms for testing purposes, but then the realisation that she had been selected to represent the USWNT in a training camp hit her.

"I was really excited to train with Becky Sauerbrunn on the back line, Crystal Dunn… so many players, but I think yeah Becky stood out to me, just [playing] in my position," she added.

Girma went on to represent the USWNT at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, starting and playing in four matches as a central defender.

Check out the full episode of Grassroots to Glory on the official Indivisa Youtube Channel.