Football: the girls made their debut at La Masia, Barça’s training center

When Clàudia Riumallo wakes up, she sees from her window the Johan-Cruyff stadium of the FC Barcelona training center. A lawn that she dreams of treading one day, dressed in the blaugrana shirt of Barça women. This 18-year-old striker is one of the nine pioneers who joined La Masia this year, the very prestigious training center of the Catalan club which has forged legends like Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta or Xavi Hernandez, new coach of the first team masculine.

Since its creation in 1979 in an old building near Camp Nou, then its move ten years ago near the club’s training center in the suburbs of Barcelona, ​​La Masia had never accepted girls among its residents. Driven by the recent triumphs of women’s Barça – crowned in La Liga, the national cup and the Champions League last season -, it opened its doors to them for the first time.

It is a very great responsibility, we are pioneers. But it’s especially nice to know that you will forever be one of the first to enter La Masia“, says Laura Coronado, 18-year-old babysitter and dietetic student, sitting in the garden of the training center. Her photo, like those of the 105 boarders (in football, basketball, hand, futsal and roller hockey), now adorns the vestibule of this modern residence, which replaced the original building in 2011 and where the nugget of male Barça Gavi still lives.The prodigy Ansu Fati, who has just turned 19, was also trained there.

“It’s a gift”

Claudia Riumallo, resident of La Masia

to AFP

In the wake of the Catalan club, the presence of women in Spanish football continues to grow. The number of female licensees has almost doubled since 2011, from 36,200 (4.3% of total licensees in Spain) to 77,400 in 2020 (7.2% of total), according to the Sports Ministry. “There are still many things missing, such as the professionalization of La Liga“, whose principle has been accepted but which is still not a reality, notes Laura Coronado, however.”We know that salaries will not be equivalent to those of men, but we would like to be able to live more comfortably from football. We fight for it“, she launches.

Like many girls of her generation, Jana Fernandez, now in Barça’s first team at 19, has never shared a locker room with girls before the age of twelve. Passed by the youth teams of the club, she did not have the chance to be a boarder at La Masia. “I often remind the girls who are there now. That they take advantage of it, because me, I would have loved to be there“, says this defender, who is studying advertising alongside her career and is aware that there is still a long way to go for girls in Spanish football.”We fight every day to get more things for those of today, and especially for the girls of tomorrow“, she slips, with a smile.

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