New Jersey girl, 16, kicks down football barriers

Jeff Granit, Asbury Park Press

New Jersey girl, 16, kicks down football barriers

Football

New Jersey girl, 16, kicks down football barriers

Don’t tell Liva Helt to stay in her lane. It would simply be impossible to keep the Red Bank Regional High School junior in a box.

Helt is already one of the most promising soccer talents in New Jersey. The Denmark native, who moved to the U.S. when she was 7, plays for the elite Players Development Academy soccer club and is a prospect for the Danish national team.

Helt could have very easily exclusively stuck to soccer. She’ll play that sport in the Ivy League at Columbia University, where she’s already committed.

Instead, Helt decided to join the Red Bank Regional football team this season as a kicker.

Helt was not fully aware of the game of football as a young child in Denmark, and didn’t pay much attention to it once she moved to the U.S. It was a challenge for a talented athlete, but the decision went beyond trying something new. In a world with more visible female athletes and a push for more gender equality, Helt wanted to make a statement.

“My dad always said to be the change you want to see in the world,” Helt said sitting for an interview last week in the home bleachers of the football field, also known as the Buc Deck. “With all the controversy about women’s rights and behavior towards women, I thought why not break through the glass barrier and try something new?”

But Helt’s story goes beyond a 16-year-old girl bravely diving into a male-dominated sport. The team has openly accepted Helt as one of their own, and the Red Bank Regional community has welcomed her with open arms.

With the misogynistic acts that seem to dominate the national headlines at times, Helt’s acceptance as just another football player is remarkable.

Read the rest of the story in the Asbury Park Press

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New Jersey girl, 16, kicks down football barriers
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