Inter Miami has teamed up with Procter & Gamble and leveraged P&G’s relationship with The Hispanic Star to introduce the Hispanic Star Award and celebrate individuals in South Florida who are going above and beyond to develop their communities through fútbol.
17 year-old Dominican midfielder Edison Azcona, who became Inter Miami’s first-ever Academy graduate to play with the first team, was selected as an ambassador to the program, as he embodies everything that the Hispanic Star Award strives to achieve.
Through a pleasant surprise, Azcona had the pleasure of recognizing Juan Mesa, Inter Miami’s athletic trainer, as the first Hispanic Star Award finalist, for his positive attitude and immutable contributions to the Club on and off the pitch.
“Juan every morning comes in with a positive attitude, good vibes. He’s a good guy to be around and talk to. He’s very generous with our time, he’s there whenever we need him. Off the field he makes sure everybody’s good and helps with the recovery side of things,” said Azcona.
The two met on Mesa’s first day with Inter Miami, as he joined the Academy team before their trip to South Korea.
“The first day I met Edi was my first day with Inter Miami also. We were in the try-out period for the team that was going to Korea, it was a great experience for him and for myself,” said Mesa.
Mesa, a Tuluá, Colombia, native who moved to the United States at age 13, spent most of his education in South Florida, getting his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Barry University. He then proceeded to work at Johnson & Wales in Biscayne, was an athletic trainer of FC Miami City (2015-18), Miami FC (2013-16), and spent seven years as a trainer with the Hatian National Team, taking part in the 2016 Copa America Centenario and three Concacaf Gold Cups.
“I got a job with the Haitian National Team. Worked in big tournaments [such as] Copa America, Gold Cup. Then I got the opportunity to start here with the [Inter Miami] academy in 2019,” said Mesa.
Following his wide experience, Mesa became Inter Miami CF’s first-ever athletic trainer in 2019, as he was selected by the Club to medically assist its academy starting with its debut in South Korea. Mesa was part of the Academy’s first-ever training session, travelled with the Academy team to Asia for its first-ever match - working then with now First Team Homegrown signings Azcona and Ian Fray - and was eventually called up to become the First Team’s first-ever athletic trainer.
“Juan’s a great guy, on and off the field. He’s been there since day one, since the South Korea trip. He’s always been supporting and motivating me and we’ve built a great relationship. We talk about things, and he just brings good vibes to the facility,” said Azcona.
“I met [Azcona] when he was at U-17, then with the U19s and in the USL. He’s grown in front of my eyes," said Mesa.
Since then, Mesa has played a key role in the day-to-day medical operations of Inter Miami, helping the team through its historic inaugural season and on. Mesa has also led the facilitation of the COVID-19 testing for the Club’s First Team and staff for training and matchdays.
Throughout a distinguished career that continues to play an essential role in players' development, Mesa has one word that best describes what it took to get to this position:
“Perseverance - it took a lot for me to get here. A lot of work and a lot of going to places and asking the right questions, looking for the right phone number to call. I’m here, it took a long time but I love what I do, I wouldn’t see myself doing anything else.”
Nominations for the four additional finalists of the Hispanic Star Award are now being accepted HERE*.\* Winners of the award will exhibit the values of work ethic, dependability, generosity, integrity, respect and service, all pervasive in Hispanic culture. In addition, winners will demonstrate a commitment and impact against at least one of the four priorities for advancing the Hispanic community: better education, better jobs, better health and gender equality. Four finalists will be selected and awarded $2,500; the individual who best embodies The Hispanic Star Award will be awarded $10,000.
P&G is a lead partner of the Hispanic Star Alliance, a non-profit collective of major corporations and Hispanic organizations dedicated to unify Hispanics and bring solutions to help them overcome barriers and accelerate their progress.