A Thank You to the Unsung Heroes of Women’s Football

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I believe today, 8 March, International Women’s Day, is the perfect day to say, “Thank You.”

Thank you to the women who have played, thank you to the women who are playing and thank you to the little girls who one day will play football. Thank you to the coaches and the parents who make it all possible. Thank you to all the people who have paved the way in the game just by playing in the park for fun.

It is normal to say thank you to the stars who have paved the way and brightened the dark night for women in sport. But, what about the women and girls who played with and against the bright stars and helped them to shine? What about the women and girls who work all day 9-5 or go to school all day and then drive 2 hours to get to practice train an hour and a half and then go home, eat, sleep and do it all over again? She has no sponsors, she has never worn her countries jersey and represented them in a game and if she gets enough money to cover her gas, she will be thankful to have the opportunity to play. The girls who are regularly told they aren’t suppose to be playing and that they should play something more feminine. To all the girls who had the courage to play with the boys team. To you I say “Thank you.”

For every Alex Morgan, there are hundreds of thousands of girls and women playing with no compensation and no recognition. For every Formiga (currently holds the record for World Cups played, 6 and this summer will make 7), there are hundreds of thousands who will never have the opportunity to even watch a game. For every Laura Georges who remembers more the Champions League’s she has lost (4) than the ones she has won (2), there are hundreds of thousands who will never even participate in a Champions League match. Even for someone like me, who you probably don’t know my name. Nike, nor Adidas, nor any other major brand has ever wanted to sponsor me, I was one of the fortunate ones who played in the national team and played in Champions League. And there are hundreds more like me that no one knows and who have sacrificed everything to play. Today, I say “thank you!”

It is to these unsung heroes of women’s and girl’s football that I say thank you. Thank you for loving the game. Thank you for giving your blood, sweat and tears for the beautiful game. Thank you for sacrificing to play when most people tell you “girls don’t play football.” Today is for you, because without you, there would be no Alex Morgan, Formiga or Laura Georges. Without you there would be no need to fight for equality in the game. And without you I would not be where I am today, so today about to graduate with a masters degree in football business and searching for a career in the football industry, I say “Thank you.”

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Arianna Criscione
Arianna was born and raised in the United States, the suburbs of Los Angeles to be exact, after which she studied at UCLA and Boston College. After her collegiate career she became a professional footballer having played in Italy, France, Sweden, Netherlands and Norway, along with some caps with the Women's Italian National Team, and appearances in the Women's Champions League, while at the same time developing an entrepreneurial spirit and having some business development experience. Her passion for football has allowed her to see the world and she hopes to share some of this experience through the blog.

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