Throughout Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month, Republic FC will highlight players and staff with Hispanic and Latinx connections. This week, goalkeeper Tomas Gomez talks about his multi-nationality upbringing.
His player bio says “born in Montemorelos, Mexico,” but for goalkeeper Tomas Gomez, his sense of identity and culture goes far beyond that. “I was born in Mexico and consider that a significant part of who I am, but my family moved to the U.S. when I was two,” he explains. “And my dad was born and raised in Colombia, so a lot of my childhood was in that community.”
When it came to sports, Tomas, like many children of Hispanic and Latinx heritage, felt torn between the different “footballs.” He explains, “My mom’s family was all about American football and my grandpa really wanted me to play that, but I used to always watch soccer with my dad and felt more drawn towards that.”
And even though Tomas was selected for the U.S. Men’s U-20 National Team camp in 2012, the sense of feeling torn between cultures expands to his fandom during international competition. “I obviously like the U.S. team since I’ve lived here most of my life, but I’m almost always pulling for Colombia. And I also like to root for Mexico from time to time.”
The 28-year-old goalkeeper recently found a way to combine his Mexican and Colombian cultures through food here in Sacramento: “I found a Mexican restaurant that serves Colombian food, including empanadas, which are my favorite.” In fact, food is how Tomas likes to stay connected to his background. “When I’m back in St. Louis with my family, we always find time to go out and get some good Colombian food. And my mom is very good at cooking Colombian beans, which is something that my grandma on my dad’s side made when I was growing up. I try to cook Colombian food too, but it’s never the same as having my family’s cooking, so getting to experience that when I’m back home is very special to me.”
On how he can connect even more with his Mexican and Colombian heritage, Tomas hopes to get better at speaking Spanish: “My dad always watches soccer games in Spanish, so being fluent in Spanish would help me understand the broadcasters better and allow us to connect on a different level. Plus I hope to travel to Colombia and Mexico, so it would be a very helpful thing to learn.”