Saturday 25 September 2021, 17:26

Venezuelan women's football dream is born

  • The FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan supported the organisation of the Venezuelan Women’s Transition Tournament 2021

  • Over 100 players from four clubs competed to win inaugural tournament

  • Yaracuyanos FC crowned winners

As with so many other countries around the world, women's football in Venezuela was profoundly affected by the pandemic.

After months in lockdown and with only very restricted activities, a new opportunity emerged for the Venezuelan Football Federation (FVF) and FIFA to revive and revolutionise women’s football in the country, to ensure it came back stronger than ever before. Within the surrounds of the High-Performance Centre in Yaracuy, a facility built exclusively for women’s football through the FIFA Forward Development Programme, four clubs embarked on an intense 10-day adventure they would never forget.

The FVF channelled the grant allocated to women's football from the FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan to finance the 2021 Transition Tournament and unveiled their new Women's Football Development Plan, nicknamed Nace un sueño (‘A dream is born’). The tournament represented a dream come true for many aiding women’s football development in the country and serve as a foundation for the new competitions to be introduced in 2022.

With the prize of a place in the CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores Femenina 2021 up for grabs, this was, for many players, the first professional event they had competed in and marked a key step forward for the women’s game in Venezuela.

The FVF’s Development Department also placed a strong emphasis on shaping the experience as one of personal growth for this defining generation of female players. The participating clubs - Deportivo Lara, Metropolitanos FC, Caracas FC and Yaracuyanos FC - benefitted from special capacity building sessions for athletes and coaches, designed to improve the girls’ technical ability, stamina, and promote key values like leadership and discipline. Players and coaches were also introduced to discussions about football integrity and participated in interactive activities that highlighted their role in protecting the game.

The competition, which marked the beginning of a new era for women's club football in the country, concluded after a packed schedule of development activities and matches, with Yaracuyanos Fútbol Club crowned 2021 Transition Tournament champions. The club will travel to Paraguay in November to represent Venezuela in the CONMEBOL Libertadores Femenina 2021.

A Venezuelan national team player celebrates after scoring a goal

What they said

Pamela Conti, Venezuela women’s head coach “The pandemic affected everyone, not only Venezuelan football but football around the world, both men’s and women’s. It is clear that some countries could restart before Venezuela but we’re getting there. We’re starting again, as excited as we were 18 months ago, when everything stopped. We are truly thankful for what FIFA are doing, for the Football Association’s effort to be here so that we can truly say one day that thanks to FIFA and the Association, Venezuelan football is better than before.”

Jorge Giménez, FVF President “Without the assistance and support from FIFA, it would have been impossible to get women’s football going again. [FIFA] really believe in this sport and are helping women’s football considerably. Thanks to [FIFA Covid-19 Relief Plan], we were able to make all of this happen. It was a beautiful, emblematic event, and the whole country was eager to see women’s football get going again.”

Players from Yaracuyanos FC celebrate qualifying for the CONMEBOL Libertadores Femenina 2021

David Quintanilla, FVF General Secretary “We’re going through a difficult situation due to the global pandemic, but if we follow all the necessary protocols, we can bring joy, not only to the people of Venezuela but also to all of the girls who wake up every day with the dream of becoming great players. We need to give them the necessary support so that they can achieve their dreams.”

Tabatha Segnini, Metropolitano FC player “Of course, the pandemic affected everyone in a terribly negative way, but I always tried to turn it around and do something more positive. I just started preparing myself, my dad was preparing me physically, and I told him ‘I don't want to stop, I want to keep working hard, I want to keep improving my body, I want to keep doing things,’ so that when, at some point, the pandemic finished I would be ready for the tournament that was coming.”

A player from Yaracuyanos celebrates winning the 2021 Transition Tournament