La vida no es dada, es prestada.

After seven years away from my family and my community, I have decided it’s time to come home. I, Benji Joya, have signed with Oakland Roots.

Since I became a professional soccer player, I have had the privilege of representing Santos Laguna, Chicago Fire, Necaxa, Sporting Kansas City, and Irapuato. I thank each of these clubs for helping to shape the man and the player I am today.

Some may be surprised by this move. I am not. This is exactly where I want to be, and where I need to be. I look at this new opportunity with Oakland Roots as a rebirth for myself, and a chance to do something special with a Club that is only just beginning.

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As part of this rebirth for myself, I have chosen to wear the No. 10. This is an iconic number in soccer, one that carries a lot of responsibility and leadership. I was once offered this number at Chicago Fire, but I believe the No. 10 is not something that should be given; my parents taught me to work for everything that I get, and I knew I did not want the 10 that way. Just as I have chosen Oakland Roots, I have chosen to take a new level of responsibility in wearing the 10. I am ready for this.

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When Oakland Roots Technical Consultant Eric Yamamoto reached out to me about this opportunity, I immediately thought this was the perfect fit. As the son of Mexican immigrants, I know what it truly means to start something new, and to pursue it with all your heart. I have also dreamed about playing in front of my family, friends, and the Bay Area community, something I have only done once in my professional career.

Family is the most important to me, though. My parents gave me so much growing up, and I see this as an opportunity to show my gratitude.

Like many athletes, my start came from humble beginnings. My days were not like your average kid to grow up in the Bay Area, but I’m proud of my roots.

When I was in the sixth grade, my stepdad would wake me at 6 a.m. to go running together for an hour. We would sweat together, and then he would drive me home for breakfast and a shower before school. After school, I had soccer practice and homework. The day didn’t end there, because I wanted to help my mom every night with her janitorial service. We all say that we love our mother, and we would do anything for her; for me, even at that young age, I meant what I said. I wanted to spend time with my family, and to do everything I could to help my mom. For me, that meant sweeping floors and emptying trash - it was not glamorous, but we did what it took to move our lives forward.

Some days I would only get a few hours of sleep. But I always remained motivated, and believed that the hard work would pay off. I always felt that I had to repay what my parents gave to me, because they always pushed me to be better and made sure I was on the best teams to give me a chance to reach my dreams.

La vida no es dada, es prestada. This means life is for borrowing, not for you to have forever. This is who I am, and this is what I believe. I will bring this level of commitment to Oakland Roots.

Let’s do this together. Conocer tus Raíces (Know your Roots).

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More than just a club, more than just a game. Oakland Roots Sports Club seeks to harness the magic of Oakland and the beautiful game of soccer as a force for social good.  Whether on the pitch, in the stands or within the community, Oakland Roots will represent our one-of-a-kind city with passion, pride, and commitment to all things Oakland. Player by player. Supporter by supporter. Resident by resident. One day at a time. One game at a time. This is about Oakland First, Always.

Become a 2019 Founders Cup Member with a $5.10 deposit and qualify to win an official unreleased Roots jersey. Let’s grow together!