Motivation by Association. Women everywhere.
I first read this expression in the book 'Bounce' by Matthew Syed when he mentions the prestigious psychologist Carol Dweck. Similar to Albert Bandura and his theory of social learning, Dr. Dweck talks about the importance of modeling and how role models can motivate and influence the acquisition of skills by emulation.
Motivation by association never actually made sense to me. It is not a surprise anymore hearing stories of women football players saying that they grew up playing among guys and there were no girls on television to associate with as an idol. Personally, I grew up wanting to be Ronaldinho. And although I was born in Brasil, where the best female players in the world were born, such as Sissi, Marta, Cristiane among others, I do not remember watching any of them. Enough that at some point, I wished I was a boy then I could be more like my "role model."
Thankfully, this has changed. Women's football is on the rise and we can see more and more professional football players in big clubs and making football as a profession, giving little girls around the world the chance to dream about the game, but now with a girls' face to their role model. Just like Nike's commercial "Dream Further" and "Dream crazier".
Although I loved football more than anything, I never thought about becoming a coach. I never met a woman coach to associate with, someone I admire so much that I wish I could just be like her. While coaching among only men, I never thought about evolving my career as a director. At that point, I did not know women could actually hold those positions in a football club, especially one like mine that it was gender-mixed. I was surprised and intimidated when I was offered that position.
I did not know women could actually own or run a football club until I met Liz Lima from South Shore Select (a soccer club in Massachusetts). I still remember the feeling taking over my whole body when I sat down with her for a meeting and I could see myself, for the first time after coaching for 6 years, in that position. From that moment, almost immediately, owning or running a club became a reality, a possibility, an opened door to my future dreams and goals.
I know entities like FIFA and other federations have pushed heavily to increase the numbers of women in football inside and outside of the pitch. However, I do not think the majority of the people understand the power of having a similar persona to yours in an important/professional/powerful/leader-type position. Your dreams can escalate. It opens doors within yourself. Women grow up with society constantly telling us what we can or cannot do, and having someone suddenly telling us that we actually can do something is not enough. We must see it. It is about having someone who shares a similar experience to ours, similar struggles than ours in those positions that before seemed impossible.
The expression 'Women Everywhere', including in the men's game, is not about comparing here or there of being better or worst. It is about opening infinite doors where we, women, are the ones choosing if we want to be there or not.
Therefore, I would like to thank Carrie Taylor for becoming the first female coaching in men's pro soccer in the United States, as well Patrizia Panico from the U16 Italy National Team, who showed me that women can be anywhere they want. Thank you so much for opening this door of opportunity for so many women, including myself.