Photo by Samuel Aranda for the New York Times.

In a world dealing with various political, religious and social crises that negatively impact girls, this story was a breath of fresh air.

A girls’ soccer team in northeastern Spain has emerged victorious after coming in first in a junior regional league. The team beat 13 boys teams to become first in the Lleida league; they have been playing against the boys teams since 2014.

Unlike other countries, women’s soccer in Spain does not enjoy the same recognition and respect as their male counterparts. Coaches for the team say that the girls have struggled with negative reactions from the soccer world.

The team has been referred to as princesses by referees during their matches. Referees have also asked them if the girls had traveled to the wrong field for their match. As they improved and began to beat boys teams more regularly, their progress was disparaged. Jose Maria Salmeron, the AEM Lleida’s general director said:

It’s really been more a problem for parents rather than their boys. It’s strange, but most of the macho comments and insults have come from the mothers of some of the boys we play.

Club officials said they want to use the team’s success to start a crowdfunding campaign in hopes of raising money for its coaching program.

13-year-old Andrea Gomez, the team’s captain and top scorer, said she eventually wants move to the United States to play soccer. “I want to play where women’s soccer is really valued,” Gomez said, “The paradise is in the United States, not here, unfortunately.”

This team of impressive girls is breaking down barriers one by one, both in soccer and in society. I look forward to seeing where the team goes next and I hope this raises the profile of women’s soccer in Spain.

-Sage Daugherty
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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