Real Salt Lake striker Bobby Wood takes pride in who he is, all of it. Wood is only the second ever U.S. Men’s National Team player to be from Hawaii and takes pride in his Japanese and African-American heritage. As Real Salt Lake prepared to celebrate AAPI night on August 6th against LAFC, Wood took the time to have a quick chat with us about his experience, his background and the importance of representation.
Q: You’ve talked previously on MLS Extratime about your time in Germany kind of opening your eyes to how people might see you differently but that it also helped you learn to be not only proud of who you are but to also embrace it. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
“I mean, honestly, it just made me open my eyes to so many different cultures, you know?
Being from Hawaii, moving to California, living in Germany, seeing a lot of different cultures throughout Europe, my grandparents being in Japan, this kind of just made me be proud of having so many different cultures in my life. There's so many different religions, cultures, foods, and I'm happy that I get to experience all of that. I’m proud just to know about so much of the world.”
Q: As you know, seeing representation is so important for kids growing up. What would you say to kids in the AAPI community who might be looking up to you?
“The beautiful thing about soccer is it doesn't matter what race you are or how tall or how big you are. You just figure out your skills and you work on those and try to bring that 1000% every day. Just be proud of who you are and work hard.
At the end of the day, again it doesn't matter your race, as long as you do your thing. Be happy and proud of who you are and work hard. Honestly, just be proud of representing your ethnicity and your culture.”
Q: Your mother is partially Japanese, are there any parts of her culture that you’ve embraced or that you grew up with?
“Growing up, I thought a lot of it felt normal but you know, seeing a lot of other cultures, I guess it was normal for me, but not for other people. I'm happy that I got to grow up and taste all the good food from my own culture then grow up in Europe as well with the European style food.
Growing up I just got to see a lot of different things. You know, my dad is African American as well so I also got to see that side of it. I'm just proud to represent so many cultures and I'm happy to be able to embrace and appreciate all of it.
I'm grateful that I get to have all of that. I'm just proud. I think everyone who is “different” should be proud of their culture and just embrace it and learn about it as much as they can.”