Women's Football Kicks Off Rio 2016, Two Days Before the Official Start of the Games
Never mind Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Novak Djokovic, Kevin Durant or Neymar.
This Wednesday (3), it's all about Marta, Cristiane, Formiga and Barbara, as all eyes are on the Brazilian female football team.
The Brazilian side will kick off things at Rio-2016, playing against China at 4 p.m. in the Engenhão stadium. Before them, at 1 p.m., Sweden will battle it out with South Africa in a match that will technically begin this year's Olympics championships.
Because of the way the calendar has worked out, this year the football will begin two days before the opening ceremony. Since Sidney's 2000 games, it has become traditional for the women's divisions to start the ball rolling. The men's football will begin tomorrow.
Without any competition from the sporting stars of the courts, the pools or the track and field, the female footballers will find themselves the centre of attention for one day.
However, the Brazilian women and their coach, Oswaldo Alvarez, admit that they must make it to the semi-finals in order to remain a long-lasting memory of Rio 2016. In London 2012, they did not make it past the quarters.
Alvarez fears that younger athletes are feeling the pressure of playing a home game, in front of millions of spectators. Women's football, usually completely overshadowed by the men's sport, often gathers crowds of sometimes no more than 500 spectators.
Alvarez has coached at the eminent São Paulo based clubs Corinthians and São Paulo, but made his name coaching smaller, mid-league clubs. His first experience with women's football came just two years ago. He believes that playing alongside long-standing female champions like Marta, 30, will help the newcomers.
"It is a bit strange to have all eyes on us, especially before the Games have even opened. But maybe now is the moment to prove to ourselves that all this work was worth it," said Marta.
Translated by GILLIAN SOPHIE HARRIS
|This Wednesday (3), it's all about Marta, Cristiane and Formiga, as all eyes are on the Brazilian female football team|