Football, we know, is an extraordinary sport that ignites the passion and dreams of millions of people. However, even in this sport we still need itinvestments and energies to achieve greater inclusion, especially towards women who, both amateur and professional, often experience a gap with respect to men. Fortunately, this situation is changing at a rapid pace, as we have confirmed Nadine Kessler, which is not without reason considered by many to be one of the strongest players he has played in recent years. After saying goodbye to football, she has not stopped contributing to the development of a world she loves and is now at the helm of UEFA women’s football (Women’s Soccer Manager).
We met her at Cecchi Point in Turin, on the occasion of the inauguration of “Lay’s RePlay”, a football field designed and managed responsibly both towards the environment (zero carbon footprint) and towards the community club. which has been given, thanks to a program of activities that aims to include those who risk being “left out”, including young players.
Kessler, what are the obstacles that a professional footballer still faces today?
“From a global perspective, the first barrier that still exists in some countries, not all, is that football is still perceived as a men’s sport. An idea that is found at all levels, not just professionally. It’s something we need to work on, and thankfully it’s changing fast. If, on the other hand, we focus only on the professional field, there is still a lack of investment and standards that will allow women’s football to develop even more ”.
What do we need to reduce the gap between men and women in professional football?
“We need to educate and offer more opportunities on the ground, where we need to give girls access from the earliest stages, when they are still very young. Girls need to be able to play with boys, feel part of the game. Then there is visibility because “if you see it, you can become it”: it is important that the media talk about women’s football and that there is support from those who can influence opinions. This aspect has also been improving in recent years.
How has the gap between men and women in this sector changed in recent years? In Italy, for example, the minimum salary for professional players.
“This is a fantastic news and is also taking shape in other countries, such as Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany and France. It’s a change that affects more than one country for the first time: usually when I was playing, news like this affected at most one European country and the United States. Now, however, there is a ferment running through Europe and countries are positively challenging themselves on this issue. There are also various organizations and investors who understand that women’s football is a smart investment, with a growth potential similar to that of men: investments are much higher than just two years ago.
How do projects affecting local communities such as ‘Lay’s RePlay’ help create a more inclusive football world?
“I started my career right in a field like the one that opened today, where I was welcomed to join and play with the boys. If inclusion takes shape in local communities like this, then this is where we see real change. That’s when parents say, “Okay, I’ll let my daughter play soccer with the other kids.” Projects like this make it clear that football can be a sport that includes and welcomes everyone. Not everyone has to be a professional player: just get together, make friends and have a good time.
What would you say to a girl to encourage her to pursue a career in professional football?
“It’s the best choice you can make and if you think about it, keep trying.”
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