Portugues VersionPortuguese
José Duarte

*By Romeu Carvalho de Castro

1.) Historical Aspects: Women's football in the US does not have it's success based on the popularity of the sport within the Latin and European immigrant populations, which are the roots for men's football in the country. Practiced in a great majority by girls who come from families with a comfortable financial situation, the two times world champion country finds it's base inside of the educational system (public and private) of the USA. The educators were worried about the student's concept of teamwork, the students always managed to think about individual interests in everyday school life, because of this they started to promote group sports and activities. The objective was to show the students that teamwork could have positive results for the whole group, as long as each person did their part in order to get the results desired by the group. The girls were tired of softball and worried about the violence in the American football, so they found in our football (soccer in the US) a more attractive sport to have in schools. The Soccer program in the US began in the 70's but it wasn't until 1985 that the country formed it's first national team, and they did this by reuniting the countries best college athletes. The great Michele Akers, captain of the US in the World Cup of 99, was one of the pioneers of the first US National Team. She also scored the first goal of the National Team's history on August 18, 1985 in a match against Denmark; the US tied 2 x 2 with Denmark.

2.) The Strength of the Universities: The investment in the University Sports of the US really took women's football to the next level. This investment also guaranteed a whole new generation of great player's, which would make the US a major world power within Women's Football. The excellent infra structure that the American universities have guarantees the sport's success, students get scholarships, have great training centers, specialized trainers, medical assistance, dieticians, and a lot of foreign exchange. The trainer who won the US's first world title in 1991 Anson Dorrance, based his program on a successful project that he realized in the University of North Carolina. His team was considered the best team of the 1990's. There are two organizations that regulate the sport in the US; one is the NCAA and the other NAIA. The NCAA controls all of the big universities in the US and has two divisions, which divide in various regions. NAIA controls the smaller universities and colleges. There are more than 300 universities with a "soccer" project in the US and most of them participate in official competitions. The National University Championship, which is organized by the NCAA, is shown on local television channels as well as ESPN, nationally. Team renovations are guaranteed due to the fact that the athletes are only allowed to play 4 seasons. Athletes also have to maintain a good GPA (grade point average) in order to take part in the sport. Universities are always keeping track of High School athletes, in order to have new players after their seniors have left. Many Brazilian athletes have decided not to play for the Brazilian National Team in order to play in the American University Competitions. Goalkeeper Carol, wingers Daiana & Débora, centerbacks Michele & Raquel, mid-fielder Talita, and forwards Aninha & Camila all left the SAAD U-17 in 97 to accept an invitation to take part of the National American University's Women's Soccer program. In 97 NAU became part of NAIA using their Rapid City campus. In their first year the school became champion of it's region and Carol, Camila and Michele were all called to the competitions all-star team, which was something that never happen to a team in it's first year of competition. This success opened the door to many Brazilian Athletes in many Universities situated in that region of the US.

3.) The USISL (Today called: USL): The great success of Women's Football in the educational environment lead to creation of clubs which gave great incentive to the sport. The season keeps the main athletes busy from August to December. The NCAA and NAIA prohibit athletes from playing or training for more than a 7month period during the year. This keeps the Universities from operating like a professional team, which would deprive the athletes of their education, in order to have a better team. This 5-month break caused the creating of many teams, which do not have any ties which the educational system. The main league was created in the 90's; it is called the W-League and is administrated by the USISL, which is in Tampa (FL). The league counted on financial support by UMBRO till 1998, it had two divisions and more than 50 clubs throughout the US. Their season begins in May and ends in August. Professional Athletes do not have eligibility to play in the Universities so many in the W-League are semi-pro or amateurs. Although there are many restrictions the organizations have placed on the University league the W-League found loopholes and guarantee an average salary of $4000 dollars to the main stars of the league.

4.) WUSA: Due to the American Women's National Team's success in the last few years' women's soccer has grown fast in the United States. Many companies like Nike and others are sponsoring this women's sport. This success, also lead Barbie to make an Mia Ham version of the doll. It is estimated that ten million women take part on official tournaments in the US. North American Women's Football is shown of TV, and takes many fans to the stadiums. Due to all of this success it was inevitable that a professional league would be created. Created in 2001, the WUSA became one of the strongest women's club competitions in the world; it was able to beat out the Italian League, which began in the 80's. The WUSA counts on all of the American National Team Athletes and athletes from the 14 main National Teams around the world. The average salary for a WUSA players can get to US 10,000 dollars monthly, not counting private sponsorships that the athletes may have. There are 8 clubs strategically placed due to commercial interests: Atlanta Beat, Boston Breakers, Carolina Courage, New York Power, Philadelphia Charge, San Diego Spirit, San Jose Cyber Rays, and Washington Freedom. Each club plays a total of 21 matches in a season; the four best teams make it to the playoffs. The average crowd in 2002 was 7,020 per match. PAX TV transmits 1 match nationally on Saturday's, having a possibility of reaching 90 million homes. Regional stations transmit matches not chosen for National feed. The first four Brazilian to take part in the WUSA were mid fielder Sissi (Ex-SAAD), forwards Roseli (Ex-Corinthians), Pretinha (Ex-Vasco) and Kátia Cilene (Ex-SAAD). In 2003 Sissi, Pretinha and Kátia Cilene are all playing for the San Jose Cyber Rays. Mid fielder Sissi is one of the leaders of the team and one of the main mid fielders in the league. Sissi has also played in two All-Star games. The forward Katie Cilene is having the same success that she had while playing for SAAD in 1996, when SAAD became the first undefeated Brazilian Champion, without conceding any goals.

* President of Saad Esporte Clube, Romeu de Castro has a degree in Journalism and Physical Education graduated from PUCCAMP, he also has s GED in Marketing and International Business from the National American University, in the United States.


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