‘Mar’ Ibarra

Woman who coached her way into founding Mexico’s 1st professional women’s soccer team found murdered

Marbella Ibarra. (Twitter)

The mysterious disappearance of Marbella “Mar” Ibarra, the legendary coach who overcame long odds to launch Mexico’s first professional women’s soccer team, came to a tragic resolution on Monday after her dead body was found covered in a blanket with her hands and feet tied. Ibarra, who was reported missing on September 19, was discovered in El Rosarito, Baja California, a beach resort town south of Tijuana. Police say her work is not believed to be connected to her death, which is being investigated as a homicide, as the Baja California region has recently found itself awash in a flood of murders.

Ibarra, a former beauty salon owner, had used the profits from her Tijuana establishment to found amateur club Isamar FC, which she coached and led to a remarkable showing against Mexico’s U-20 Women’s World Cup team. Following her club’s 2-1 defeat, the team struck a deal with local professional men’s team, Xolos de Tijuana, to relaunch the squad as a professional women’s team, las Xolas de Tijuana. As the first and only professional women’s team in Mexico at the time, the club began competing in the United States’ semi-pro Women’s Premier Soccer League in 2015.

Last year, Ibarra’s efforts culminated with the founding of Mexico’s professional women’s soccer league, Liga MX Femenil. In recent days, she resigned her position at the league in order to work with a foundation that would provide financial assistance to young female players who otherwise would be unable to travel to try out for teams.

Baja California, already a dangerous region, has seen a 44 percent spike in murders during the first half of 2018 compared to last year. Approximately 71 people have been murdered for every 100,000 residents in the region this year — one of the highest murder rates in the world.

Read the full story at Yahoo News.

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