The women’s national football team is bringing honor and status to a country that is lacking both recently
It is undoubtful that our football female movement is increasingly improving, thanks to national and international achievements. From a national point of view, it is worth highlighting that last March Juventus Women played for the first time at the club’s Allianz stadium, in front of a crowd of about 39,000 people. The former record of attendance for a women’s match in Italy was set in 2008, when Bardolino and Frankfurt played in front of 14,000 supporters. Considering the international perspective, it is amazing that, in a traditionally male-dominated society like Italy, women succeeded in something that men could not do: qualifying for the World Cup.
Italy won its qualifying group clinching first place with 21 points in 8 games (7 wins, 1 loss against Belgium when our Azzurre were already qualified). The key strength is a strong defense, since they had conceded only four goals in 8 matches. Although the team is well organised and has talented players, it lacks a physical presence in some areas of the field.
Milena Bertolini was appointed in August 2017, replacing the Italian football legend Antonio Cabrini, who was in charge for 5 years. She started working as a physical trainer, before coaching women in Verona, Reggio Emilia and Brescia. The coach is strongly focused on phisical and mental preparation, as she straight away recongized that many players have never played in international contests, with the exception of Sara Gama, who joined PSG two seasons ago, Elena Linari, who has just won the championship with Atletico Madrid, and Ilaria Mauro and Laura Giuliani, who spent several seasons in Germany.
Due to the lack of international experience, Milena Bertolini started the training camp in May, in order to help her players get to grips with the way she wants to play. In fact, the coach likes to mix different formations, passing from a 4-3-3 to 4-4-2, thanks to the flexibility of her girls.
In many interviews, coach Bertolini stated that “I don’t care about formations, but I do care about concepts.” Moreover, she reported that she looks up to Zeman and Guardiola as role models because of their playing style and Ancelotti for his comunication skills.
Barbara Bonansea certainly deserves to be highlighted. The young player of the Juventus team won the Serie A and Coppa Italia while studying Economics at the University of Turin. Once Fifa.com once described her as “being able to balletically slalom past opponents on grass like Alberto Tomba did to poles in snow.”
And a never-ending problem
Although our ladies should have all the possible support, there is still a “characteristic” Italian problem: ignorance. In fact, although the team is bringing honor and status to a country that is lacking both recently (from a football and a moral perspective), there are still people insulting them. In fact, sexist and racist offences keep coming from users on social networks. As an example, Sara Gama, an Italian citizen from Trieste with a Congolese father, was insulted due to her skin. Some comments like “although she is an Italian citizen, she does not have Italian features nor chromosome”depicts a scenario where many people feel threatened, as soccer represents a male-dominated stronghold. In addition, it appears that skin colour is used by people to offend more than just individuals, but women’s soccer in general, which is already disadvantaged by a sexist mentality and limited funds.
In the end, these ladies represent Italians who do not surrender to stick-in-the-mud ideas of society and sports where women are reduced to a mere walk-on role. We need to support them fiercely, as they represent ourselves in this competition.