Argentina is well-known for its passion for football. It’s won the World Cup twice. Now, for the first time, it has qualified for the Women’s World Cup, set to begin in France this week.
As CGTN’s Joel Richards reports, the women’s team is making history, and challenging prejudice in the process.
Defender Natalie Juncos was born in the United States to Argentine parents, who were both Olympic swimmers. She has always wanted to follow their path and represent Argentina.
Juncos and her teammates are hoping to make history at the World Cup this year.
“The objective is, honestly, to win a game,” said Juncos. “That would already be history winning a game, we would like to win and get out of our group, it would be big growth for Argentina to do that.”
Coaching the squad is Carlos Borrello- returning for a second time to lead the team.
“In the previous stage there was a squad which had worked together since 2003 or 2004 and we reached a good level winning the South American championship,” said Borrello. “But that squad broke apart because the players needed to work, so many of them left.”
The finances of the women’s game have been in the headlines in recent months and recent years.
In March, the Argentine Football Association announced that it would grant professional status to the women’s league, recognizing the difficulties that many players face.
But the national team has also had its own problems. In 2017 the squad went on strike in protest at their economic situation.
Besides the economic issues, players are also facing prejudice.
Evelina Cabrera, the Founder of the Argentine Women’s Football Assocation, has been one of the driving forces to improve the organization of women’s game, and change attitudes.
“The problem is that it is now accepted that women play football – but only as a hobby,” said Cabrera. “They are not viewed as professional sportspeople just like men.”
Many players on the national team, like Natalie Juncos, say they are proud to be part of the changes taking place. But for now, they are focusing on their opening game in the Women’s World Cup against Japan in Paris on June 10th.