There are no barriers or limits, or anything that can stop them. Women have been making their way in the world of sports, in particular, in soccer, world cups have started to be played and even women’s teams participate in the Olympic Games. In the case of Chile, the women’s soccer team, better known as “La Roja”, has been a surprise for fans of this sport, as they are gaining more and more admirers.
In Reyes de Barrio (RDB), a program of free soccer schools located in 14 districts of the Metropolitan Region, this trend has been noticed, and more and more girls and women are joining the team.
Silvana Zúñiga has been working for two months as an RDB teacher in the Cerro Navia district. She has always loved soccer since she was a child. She has been involved in the sport for many years and says that soccer is her life. She even had the opportunity to travel to Italy with the incoming team to play against Inter Milan.
“I always wanted to be a soccer player but before it was much more complicated. It was one of the reasons why I decided to dedicate myself to being a coach because this way, many girls will have the opportunity that I didn’t have. I love that girls dare to participate in soccer, because women are the power today and we can do anything we set our minds to. I love to see the girls play with personality and confidence,” says the teacher proudly.
Like Silvana, there are girls on the team who have dreamed of playing soccer since they were little, and in this Luksic Foundation program they have found a space where they can develop their skills with the ball, play with other children who are passionate about this sport and, at the same time, pursue their goals.
Ornella, 11 years old, is one of them. Hailing from the commune of Independencia, this sixth-grader gets up early so she can go to school to do her homework. Then, in the afternoon, on Mondays and Fridays she trains at Reyes de Barrio. In her free time, she enjoys playing ball, her favorite sport.
“For me, playing at Reyes de Barrio is something new that I am experiencing. The best thing is to play and learn new techniques,” Ornella said, adding that in addition to improving her ball skills thanks to her teachers, she also learns values such as respect and companionship in the classes.
With her favorite player in mind, Yanara Aedo, a striker with Rayo Vallecano in Spain’s women’s first division and a member of the Chilean women’s national team, confesses that she would love to play professionally later on if she gets the chance. Her mother, Rosario Ramirez, has been encouraging her since she was a little girl to achieve her goals.
“I love that Ornella plays soccer because my whole family is soccer fans. I always accompany her in whatever she does, telling her that she has to work hard to achieve it. Now we women are more empowered and have more opportunities. Girls tell you they want to play and just go. They are much freer,” says Rosario.
Twenty-five kilometers from Independencia, in the commune of El Bosque, is 10-year-old Fernanda. A soccer fanatic, she grew up in a soccer family just like Ornella, where her mother, Karen González, even participates in the El Bosque women’s national team and in the team called “Las Pichangozy”.
“Participating in Reyes de Barrio for me is a giant achievement, because I really like playing ball. What motivates me most about soccer is scoring goals,” says Fernanda and tells that the person who most motivated her to play was her mom, since she played with her since she was a little girl, accompanying her to every game.
“When I watch soccer games I always think that I want to be playing there. I see the players and it motivates me a lot,” Fernanda relates. “I really like being with my teammates, giving us passes and training us on the Reyes de Barrio fields because they are synthetic grass. It’s a privilege to be there,” she concludes.
Karen González is very happy for her daughter and remembers her childhood years. “When I started playing, when I was six years old, we women didn’t have these opportunities to play soccer because it was very macho. They told us that we were shady and didn’t give us the option to play. Now, I see my daughter and I feel proud that she can do it even on a professional field and with all the necessary equipment”, she said.
Ten-year-old Hillary lives in the San Miguel district, and on training days she looks forward to going to the field. Like her father, Hillary inherited her love of playing soccer at an early age. “What I like most about soccer is sharing with my teammates, learning, having fun and scoring lots of goals. My father, a lifelong soccer player, was the one who motivated me and instilled in me to love this sport,” she says.
This little soccer player, who trains two days a week, says that for her, being in Reyes de Barrio has been a very nice experience from the first moment because she loves soccer. “What I like most are the teachers because they teach us different things in each class, with respect and to everyone equally,” she mentions.
Her mother, Edith Zapata, appreciates her daughter’s motivation in wanting to participate in the program. “I hope that my daughter will develop more in soccer in a professional way. I will always support her in the sport and if it is what she likes, she has to work hard to move to a higher category. Now there is no more gender inequality. In practice, everything is done equally,” she commented.