FILE - Barcelona women’s team celebrates scoring against Espanyol at Catalan Derby
CAIRO – 13 November 2018: In the land of Catalonia where Lionel Messi spread his magic with Barcelona and football fans hold their breaths ahead of the Catalan Derby between Barcelona and Espanyol, women have found their way to the public interest in football during the last decade.
“The game gains more fans every day; you can’t compare it to men’s football but the stereotyping around women’s football is changing,” Espanyol women’s team manager, Joan Bacardit, told Egypt Today.
Espanyol started their women’s football branch in 1970 and they were one of the pioneers of the game in Spain, many years ahead of their rivals, Barcelona, who started their women’s football branch in 1988.
Both teams are competing at the domestic competitions and they have achieved five titles combined at the competition known as Primera División Femenina de Fútbol since its inception in 1988.
Espanyol was the first team from Catalonia to achieve the title in 2006, while Barcelona achieved their four titles between 2011 and 2015 and both teams achieved six titles each at the domestic Cup.
Espanyol play their home games at Ciutat Esportiva Stadium with a capacity of 1520 seats, while the 15,276-seat stadium of Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper hosts Bracelona’s home games.
Barcelona’s interest in women’s football increased in recent years and they opened their women’s football academy in 2011; their four youth teams consist of 67 players and produce players to support their first team.
“We expect a bright future for women’s football in the club and we do everything to support them and make them better. We arrange games between Real Madrid and Barcelona which attracts football fans in Spain,” Barcelona academy personnel told Egypt today.
Like men’s football academy where teenagers can join the club and chase their dreams to play professional football in the first team, the club board seeks to provide the women’s academy with the same system.
In Girona, located 100 km northeast of Barcelona, marketing director in Girona FC, Aran Navarro, revealed that the club is paying much attention to women football and that they have five youth teams at their women’s academy beside the first team that participates at the Primera División Femenina de Fútbol.
“Our first team is not doing well this season but we achieved two amazing victories over Barcelona and Espanyol,” Navarro said.
The women’s football in Catalonia, like the whole country, is getting better and attracting more fans. The game personnel are optimistic about its ability to become more popular like men’s football in the future.