With her brusque style, salty language and emphasis on discipline, 92-year-old youth soccer coach Maria Angelica Ramos is helping to turn young children into fully fledged footballers in Peru.
Ramos, known by her players as “the Old Lady,” has been a coach for almost half a century, most of them at Lima’s America Mimi Sporting Club.
Some 1,000 players have run laps and completed drills under her strict eye and even though her health is failing the nonagenarian task master is still going strong.
She has earned the affection of her young charges, who see Ramos as their “second mother.”
“The ‘Viejita’ is a really good lady,” said Luis Ignacio Ore Marin, one of her players.
“She’s like a second mother to us, and when she trains us, when she says things that — I shouldn’t say them — it’s for our own good. Because, we have to learn and to understand that we have to be strong.”
With no family of her own, Ramos has dedicated much of her life to the children she trains and said that with her health deteriorating she values their companionship more than ever.
“I live alone, I don’t have a family, I don’t have children, I don’t have anyone,” she said. “Before, I didn’t miss it, but now I’ve been sick, so I see the need for someone to be with me.”
“I’m going to keep going as long as God wants me to. I don’t know, but I think I’m going to die on some (soccer) pitch, but I’m going to keep going with this.”