Breaking barriers at the age of eight

Candelaria’s love for football is “very strong”, says Rosana. “I’m not a big football fan myself, but I’ve always followed Independiente. She took after her dad and became a Boca Juniors fan, and a football was always her favourite toy.”

So enamoured was she with football, that when her parents brought her to girl’s hockey at Huracan, she was more interested in checking out the nearby football pitch. “One day we were all in the town square, and next thing we knew, Cande was playing ball with some other young boys she’d never met before.”

And so it was then that Rosana decided to bring her to football training. “She was only five and I was fearful she’d get knocked around. I also worried they might not respect her or might tease her. I was even told by some mothers: ‘You shouldn’t bring her; she’ll get a name for herself, as if it were something bad.”

In spite of everything, Cande was soon happily playing at left-back and never afraid to get on the ball. Nor was she intimidated by her opponents or the remarks she often heard. “Parents of opposition players would say things like ‘you can’t lose to a team with a girl in it’ or ‘how could you let a girl take the ball off you’ – that kind of thing. There were also plenty of words of support,” says Rosana.

The young player prefers to watch videos of Carlos Tevez than Lionel Messi and has already shown herself capable of a little gamesmanship. “One day she got hit hard in the face by a ball and showed no signs of getting up. I went over to the fence and asked her if she was ok. ‘I’m just wasting time’, she replied. I didn’t know whether to get mad at her or laugh.”

Faced with the bad news last year, Rosana knew that doing nothing was not an option, so she began exploring some possibilities. One of the avenues for her frustration was Facebook, never imagining that it would generate such a reaction in the media and eventually involve some of the players from Argentina’s national women’s team.

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