Monday 24 July 2023, 23:00

Linda Caicedo: Football’s not about age or gender, I think it brings everyone together

In a time marked by conflict and crisis, the world is divided. But through the power of football, the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ will bring people together, allowing them to unite - discovering new cultures, being part of a worldwide community and celebrating together.

FIFA’s flagship campaign Football Unites the World is a global movement that will inspire, unite and drive development through football, with FIFA Legends sharing stories of what football’s uniting power means to them.

On the eve of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™, we caught up with Linda Caicedo to hear her story.

When the conversation turns to Colombian forward Linda Caicedo, the terms ‘wunderkind’, ‘niña maravilla’ or ‘child prodigy’ all come to mind, and with good reason. Caicedo made her pro debut aged just 14 at America de Cali, one of Colombia´s biggest clubs, and finished her rookie season with a title-winner’s medal and the league’s top-scorer award.

“I’ve been playing football since I was little. Maybe I didn’t see myself ending up as a pro player, that’s happened bit by bit. I got the chance to make my debut at 14 and my footballing adventure all started there. It’s not been easy obviously, but it’s something I’ve enjoyed right from the beginning.”

Now 18, so much has been packed into these last four years they must have felt like four lifetimes. Caicedo overcame ovarian cancer diagnosed at the age of 15, from which she fully recovered thanks to several operations and the “crucial” support of her family. Though at points during her treatment she wondered whether she would be able to play football again, since returning her rise has been meteoric, for both club and country.

In 2022 Caicedo represented Colombia at the Copa America Femenina – winning the competition’s Golden Ball award – while she also defended her country’s colours at both the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup™ in Costa Rica and the U-17 global showpiece in India. At the latter, she captained the team to a history-making campaign, with Colombia going all the way to the final, where they were beaten by Spain.

Linda Caicedo receives her medal COL vs SPA final India 2022

Come 2023 and Caicedo made the leap to Europe when signing for Real Madrid and is currently preparing to shine at her first senior FIFA Women’s World Cup™. “I get the sense we’re growing as players all the time and that we’re getting more support too,” said Caicedo, who is very aware of the inspirational example her and her colleagues are setting for the next generation.

“These kinds of tournaments, like the World Cup, can open doors for a lot of people, a lot of young women and a lot of girls who want to be part of a beautiful project like this,” she continued. “We’ve got the opportunity and the ability to create all that and we always feel it’s a blessing that what we do could also benefit other people.”

Linda Caicedo (COL) celebrating a goal 2

After already living through so many intense and enriching experiences, Linda has seen first-hand at pitch level how football can bring people together, highlighted by the diversity of the fans that follow the performances of her and her fellow Chicas Superpoderosas.

“Alongside my team-mates we’ve seen huge growth, we’ve filled stadiums, we’ve seen people of all ages – adults, children and young people – coming to support us,” she concluded. “That’s the thing: football’s not about age or gender, I think it brings everyone together. That’s the beauty of football.”