Juliana Roman Lozano, Argentina
For All, all. If not, claim it!
Born in Colombia Juli is living and working in Argentina since she was 19. Football it’s her revolution: not only it does make her happy and complete but it’s also her weapon to contribute her grain of sand to the struggle for equality. When she plays football she feel alive, free and unstopable.
Her family moved to Sweden and her fathers passion for football rubbed off on her too. She learned Swedish on the pitch, to communicate with her team. Turning 15, her family moved back to Colombia and she was stunned by the absence of girls’ soccer in her school. Juli played for the U-19 national team as defensive midfielder, but was keen on to get out of Colombia. She missed her freedom she experienced in Sweden. Finally she moved to Argentina to study anthropology, but not before she contacted Club Atlético River Plate to play in the first division soccer. Her Anthropology study opened her eyes to the chain of her own life: how she was bullied for playing soccer and the expectation of her being a women should look like. (Please also see the originally text published in NPR Latino USA as well.)
Today she is a professional football coach, mentor and role model
She graduated from a class of 86 students where she was the only woman. It was not easy and very challenging. But it was amazing for her to learn so much and to open some of those minds that where not very welcoming a female coach. Together with Monica Santino – a woman with a tender and determined look who knows that soccer is much more than a ball – they founded La Nuestra Futbol Femenino in November 2007. For the first time their feet put on the floor of the polluted square of the Barrio Güemes in the Villa 31de Retiro. With pride and dignity they put on football boots, shorts and didn’t leave again.
La Nuestra Futbol Femenino is an NGO that was born with the intention to seek to recreate a space for practice soccer and to promote women’s football in pauperized neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. Its main goal is to use women’s football as a tool to empower girls women and work towards gender equality and to fight violence against women. Their pitch it’s a safe place now even for single mothers or gay women who are trying to escape their environment for a while.
La Nuestra Closes The Gap
Argentina boast a long soccer tradition, it’s a cultural asset and practically engrained in national identity. Men’s football is known for its excellence. Maradonna and Messi are topnotch players, simply stars who shine beyond the national border. It is illogical that women’s soccer is outside of this cultural phenomenon. The problem is that the odds for female football players are worse and career opportunities are limited. To reach a professional level often fails very early. And La Nuestra has recognized a real gap here, which had to be closed. The beginning of La Nuestras path was tough. In Argentina they were forced to play in men shirts. The pitches were unlighted. All times for practicing football on the field were reserved for boys and men. The girls started to defend themselves and claimed the pitch for them only. Once these boys threw stones and sticks on them, one girl got injured. They left the pitch, but the next day they came back and stood their ground. Male resistance shrank and today La Nuestra is practicing 3 times a week for two hours. Parents encourage their daughters to play instead of trying to stop them. These women claimed their right to play, their public space for something they love to do. It’s small steps forward, but they’re signal steps.
Women in sport should be the most normal in the world
It’s a political decision to dedicate oneself to play football and create space. Sport should take more space on each feminist agenda. Not only La Nuestra but many other organizations and individuals started a feminist movement. This work it’s fun. And football is Juli’s tool, through football she can express herself.
For her it’s the beginning only. One day she could imagine herself as politician. Whereat, she and all these women fighting in that space as politicians already. Without mandate, but with many ideas. And especially with a lot of patience.
#footballstories #equality #fightforyourdreams #argentina #Passion #anygirlanywhere #fighter #Sheroes #futbolfeminista #lanuestra12anos