The doors of CT do Caju they had been open for just over half an hour when Meiry Maria da Paixão He arrived running, carrying a helmet and a backpack on his back. Panting, he went to the security guards and stated that he was the technician. São Braza team competing in the 2023 Paranaense Women’s Championship.
A teacher during business hours, the coach went straight from work to direct the 11 athletes from the “red and black team of São Braz” on the field against Rio Branco, for the second round of the competition on that sunny Saturday, November 4th.
14 years earlier, in 2009, on the other side of the city, more than eight thousand people went to Couto Pereira to watch Santos de Marta, Cristiane and company play against Novo Mundo, a women’s football team from Curitiba. The best in the state at the time.
The match was valid for the round of 16 of the Copa do Brasil and many athletes from the home team went straight from work to the game. “I didn’t even imagine that they didn’t train every day and that they couldn’t concentrate”, said Queen Marta about the situation of the Curitiba team’s players after the match.
More than a decade later, the situation is not so different and Meiry and the São Braz athletes divide their journey as workers, wives, mothers and football players. Training isn’t until nine at night. Once, twice, at most three times a week. But it was from training to training that São Braz achieved its second participation in the Paranaense Femino, being the only amateur team in the competition.
“Women’s football can’t be explained, it’s a passion. You have to live it here to understand, I can’t measure it with words. And being able to give this visibility to the girls alongside Athletico, Coritiba, is very gratifying”, he says. the technique.
At each state game, whenever they have time, they meet in the locker room before the match to concentrate. As it was a Saturday, most of the players were off and managed to arrive at Athletico’s CT in advance. Meiry, who wasn’t as lucky, warned.
“Guys, it really is a rush. Monday will be like this, because most people here also work. So it’s going to be all this stress”, said the coach, already inviting the girls to speak before the ball rolls.
The coach explained the game plan, detailed the opponents’ playing style and gave tips to the players. At the end, a circle and an energetic “Our Father”, recited shouting from start to finish, giving goosebumps to anyone nearby.
“It is a dream [jogar o paranaense] for those who are amateurs. I started playing with kids, with kids. So reaching an important championship, playing with professional teams, as an amateur team, we are making a dream come true. We are willing, with determination and that makes a total difference. It’s a feeling of joy and gratitude”, said striker Yasmin Morais.
São Braz was created just over a year ago and it is technicians Meiry and Hudson Santos who rolled up their sleeves and took over the project in March 2022. Last year, they debuted in the state and, against professional teams and with investment, they came in fourth place, out of six teams in total. This year, with a different squad, the campaign wasn’t as good, but Meiry values her athletes’ determination and desire to make things happen.
“Our group worked hard all year, getting rained out, cold, training until midnight, one in the morning and, the next day, they were working early. So this is their moment, regardless of the result, regardless of the scores, we want them to enjoy this moment. Regardless of what happens in the competition, we worked hard to ensure they have this opportunity”, said the coach, excited.
Football and boldness
“Daring to write our history”, this is the phrase embedded in the team’s description on its official Instagram account. Called “Rubro-negro do São Braz”, the team that uses Athletico’s colors borrowed one of the four winds of Furacão to invest in an inspiring project.
“The São Braz project is beautiful. You see girls who work all day, who work hard, but they are here and come onto the field with desire, to do their best. São Braz shows many girls who think there is no way, that you just have to believe and go after it. We sacrifice things to do our best and be part of this project to show these young people that they can and do,” said Yasmin.
Before entering the field that day, the women, gathered in the locker room, among pagodas and funks coming from the sound box, in the “pique cara cara” player, put on their socks and boots, but they also took their experiences and experiences with them to the match. dreams inside and outside of football.
“It’s an emotion that I can’t explain, because most girls make a living from it, they get paid for it. So they train every day. And then getting on the field with them, you feel like ‘wow’. I’m a fan, the rivalry is only on the field, outside we’re fans of these girls who are already professionals”, says athlete Bruna José dos Santos.
It is the 25-year-old player’s first time in the competition. The excitement about her debut manifested itself in her haircut and Bruna decided to wear the team’s initials in her hair. Her dream is to be able to make a living from football, just like her opponents in the competition.
At São Braz, no athlete is paid to play. Without structure or sponsorship, the women’s team is driven by love. “I want amateur structures to see São Braz as an example and motivate other girls, because we have a lot of good women out there, but there is a lack of encouragement and investment”, says captain Suelen Cristina Moreira.
At 37 years old, she shares the routine of caring for her seven-year-old son with her passion for the ball and the club. “Football is not just a sport, it is therapy. It’s where I can forget about problems, where I find myself. I see a very good future for São Braz and I want to be part of it. Just like Formiga, I want to stay for another ten years, I think”, jokes the driver.
A veteran, she has already participated in and won women’s state championships in the junior category. Today, the son inherited the passion and, this year, was able to accompany his mother on the field live. It was the first time that the Paraná Football Federation broadcast the match on its own channel.
“Slap your face”
At CT do Caju, the match against Rio Branco was tough, with tough entries from Paranaguá’s opponents. The best on the field, Juju, left the pitch straight to the ambulance after taking a cart. Goalkeeper Débora needed to be replaced, but first, she gave her name and saved a penalty.
The final result was not good and São Braz lost 4-0. But for the players, the score didn’t matter. They were in the role they liked most, in uniform, with the ball at their feet, running on the field. Two rounds later, the team ended up being eliminated from the competition. But it is experience that they take into account.
“We are showing our face and trying to make these girls fall in love with football. It’s challenging to be the only amateur in the championship. It was a whole project structured for a year for us to be here”, said Meiry.
In the locker room after the game against Rio Branco, even with the defeat, the energy was the same as it was at the beginning. To the sound of “Tá Escrito”, by Grupo Revelação, the athletes got ready to leave. Believing in the project, they understand that the time will come, just lift your head and put your foot in, as Xande de Pilares sings.
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