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The breakthrough generation: the faces of women's football

Sara Gama, Barbara Bonansea, Ilaria Mauro, Alia Guagni and Alice Parisi lead the change

The breakthrough generation: the faces of women's football Sara Gama, Barbara Bonansea, Ilaria Mauro, Alia Guagni and Alice Parisi lead the change

It opened with the claim Don’t Change Your Dream. Change The World the Nike event which saw the athletes that are revolutionizing the landscape of women's football as protagonists. In the Nike Store in Corso Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, the sportswear giant has dedicated a day to the women that are writing the history of girls' soccer. 

Sara GamaBarbara BonanseaIlaria MauroAlia Guagni and Alice Parisi called themselves the breakthrough generation: it's also thanks to them that over the last few years the perception of women's football has radically changed, even though prejudices and stigma persist to this day. Along with the football players, the other guest was the World Champion Gianluca Zambrotta, a role model and true inspiration for entire generations. 

Throughout the event, Zambrotta and the football players talked about their beginnings with this sport and the journey that led them where they are today. For all of them, football has always been the most beloved sport, the one that made them have fun the most, the one they would dream to turn into a job, starting in their backyard or in the leisure centre, to later land at the Allianz Stadium and at Franchi. A deep-rooted passion, stronger than stereotypes, able to survive to the objective lack of models within the women's football world - Sara Gama would often say that she didn't have any role model, so she became her own. Women's football is witnessing unprecedented popularity and media attention - set to increase even more with the approach of the World Cup in June: what the football player guests at the Nike event wish is that their fame can inspire all those girls who want to play football, but are too often discouraged for it being known as a men's sport. 

On the front line of this process of change in the women's football, there's Barbara Bonansea.
Born in 1991, she grew up playing in the Turin youth team, spending the next five years in Brescia. In summer 2017 she officially joined the newly born Juventus Women, turning down a stellar offer by Lyon, winning two championships in a row and the Coppa Italia, collecting 21 presences and scoring 13 goals. 
She scored the decisive goal in the match against Portugal, which sealed the historic qualification of the Women's National Football Team for this year's World Cup

We had the chance to catch up with Juventus and National Team's striker, here's what she told us. 

#1 What's your first memory connected with football? 

I started playing in the backyard with my dad and my brother, who's three years older than me and already played. My dad had a real passion for this sport, I would have a great time with them and I would always go to see my brother's training. So one day his coach said to me 'Instead of standing there watching, come and play with us'. That's how it all began. 


#2 You often say that one of your role models is Cristiano Ronaldo. What's so inspiring about him? 

Ronaldo has become one of my heroes a bit randomly. I watch a lot of football matches and I saw the European final where he lost against Greece. He started crying desperately and I thought that he had something special, and I started following his career. This happened 13 or 14 years ago, since then he's become an amazing and stubborn athlete, someone who always  gives his best, he tries always hard to score, to make his team win. He's one of the best athletes in the world. 


#3 In your career,  have there ever been moments where you thought you couldn't make it and you wanted to quit?  

I was very lucky, I've never had moments like this. Definitely there have been some bad moments, but generally, I'm a positive person. Maybe the bad times were caused by a loss or by a minor injury, but I'm always calm and serene. I've always been very close with my family and I was able to get where I wanted. 

#4 What's something you really can't stand hearing about women's football? 

There are a few things that I hear about women's football that may nag me, like 'Football is a men's sport', 'What do you want to be a football player for', 'Is the field the same one?', 'Are the goalposts the same ones as for men?'... These are just dumb things that I don't like, but I wouldn't say I'm very bothered by them because I love what I do. Most of the times I don't even answer to these type of comments, I just smile and I leave. 


#5 Do you have the feeling of living in a historic moment not only for football but for the whole female sport industry? 

Absolutely. A few years ago we couldn't even imagine all this, like playing at Allianz Stadium full of spectators just for us. It's definitely a historic moment, but it's also a starting point to make things grow. I'm very happy to be part of this moment and I'm very happy for all the young girls who follow us. I hope this is a starting point not only for football but for the whole female sport sector.