A trio of Inter Miami CF Academy products is in the midst of a special experience, representing the Club and their respective countries at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina. For Edison Azcona, Israel Boatwright and David Ruiz, the opportunity is a major milestone in their careers.
Azcona and Boatwright are representing the Dominican Republic in the country’s first-ever World Cup competition, a moment they helped achieve by featuring prominently and leading the team to a historic 2022 Concacaf U-20 Championship finals run.
“Being able to represent my country, the Dominican Republic, in its first World Cup is something incredible. It’s an honor, I do it with pride and I'm really happy to be here helping the team and showing what we’re made of,” said Azcona, who is captaining the team through the historic occasion.
“The feeling has been amazing to represent my country at the World Cup, especially since our country’s first. It’s been an honor,” added Boatwright.
Ruiz, meanwhile, is representing Honduras at the tournament after previously featuring for both the United States and Honduras across the youth levels.
“I have to thank God for having the privilege to be at the World Cup representing my country in the first place. It’s an honor to be here and it feels really great,” said Ruiz.
Azcona continued to build on his history-making efforts for his country in the team’s first match at the tournament, scoring the opening goal in the team’s opening match against Nigeria. The goal marked his country’s first-ever goal at a World Cup.
“To be able to score the Dominican Republic’s first goal in its first World Cup was an unreal feeling. I was very happy and excited, especially in the moment to take the 1-0 lead, even though we didn’t get the result we wanted. It was an incredible feeling and I still don’t think I really understand the magnitude of what it means,” said the Dominican captain.
For Boatwright and Ruiz, meanwhile, their first matches of the tournament represented their first steps onto the World Cup stage. Boatwright started his country’s opening match and played the full 90 minutes, while Ruiz came off the bench and played the whole second half for Honduras against Gambia.
“It definitely felt amazing to step onto the pitch for the first time in a World Cup. It was special singing the national anthem and having my mom, my brother, my whole family, and so many people I know supporting me,” said Boatwright.
“It was very special to me. It’s been one of my goals and dreams since I was a little boy to be able to play in a World Cup, so it was a dream realized,” added Ruiz.
Each of the three players is taking the opportunity in stride and expressed belief in the opportunity as a building block for their futures, while also reminiscing on what helped them reach this level.
“I’m looking to gain experience, taking all the information I can and exploring different playing styles. I hope to build off of this by learning to dedicate myself to what I’m doing away from home, sacrificing my home life for these opportunities,” stated Ruiz. “Inter Miami prepared me by helping me be able to play against and amongst older players who are more experienced and have taught me discipline. They have helped me develop my game with their advice and coaching. Breaking into the First Team has given me a lot of confidence. It has also shown me that if I work hard, I can accomplish anything.”
“This is a really special experience. I’m looking to learn from it and take it all in, especially playing against the best U-20 players from their respective countries. I want to learn from it and use it to keep growing in my career,” said Azcona.
“This tournament allows me to play against different players from different countries around the world, and see how the play styles differ. I’m looking to build off of this positively and hopefully play in the next World Cup,” added Boatwright. “The Club helped a lot in my development, preparing me for the U-20 World Cup, especially training with the First Team, going against bigger, faster, stronger players.”
The tournament continues throughout the month of May and will conclude in June, with two group stage games remaining for both the Dominican Republic and Honduras. Follow along with the action to see Inter Miami’s young World Cup players embracing the opportunity on the world stage.