Boca Juniors won the cup of the first professional women’s soccer tournament in Argentina. The Gladiadoras snatched the title from River Plate 7-0, with a double from their historic scorer, Andrea Ojeda, and Fabiana Vallejos. Boca, which has been undefeated for 32 games, started as the favorite of the transition tournament and confirmed its superiority.
Clarisa Huber opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Then Yamila Rodríguez, Lorena Benítez, Fabiana Vallejos and Andrea Ojeda scored to go into halftime with a placid 5-0. The Millionaires, on the other hand, had almost no chances during the first 45 minutes, except for a header by Uruguayan Carolina Birizamberri inside the rival area. It was difficult for the River star to distance himself from his defenders during the first half, but he managed to find some spaces in the second and had the best chance of his team: a shot that was stopped by Laurina Oliveros, who has not conceded a goal in the last seven matches.
In the final, in addition to the title, the tournament’s top scorer was also defined. Birizamberri led the table with nine goals, but Andrea Ojeda’s double for Boca allowed him to stay with the recognition when he reached ten. “It is a satisfaction to be the top scorer in the tournament, but above all it is satisfaction for the team. I owe it to them, ”declared Boca’s nine after the referee called the final. Ojeda, one of the team’s veterans, aged 36, has won 23 titles with this team since she arrived at the club at the age of 14.
“The first one stays at home”, could be read on the shirts with which the Gladiators returned to the stadium to collect the cup after the victory. Those led by Christian Meloni took out the thorn of not having been able to be crowned in the last tournament: they topped the table at the time the competition was canceled due to the pandemic.
For the same reason, the game was played behind closed doors at the José Amalfitani stadium, but it attracted great interest from the growing number of fans of this sport. Both teams bet that the women’s Superclassic would be a showcase of this tournament in full transformation after the professionalization achieved in 2019. Both teams could meet again next March, when the Copa Libertadores will be held in Argentina.
The transition tournament, which began in the middle of the pandemic, was with a different format than the previous one: four groups of four teams each, except for A, which had five, which played all against all and then make way for the quarterfinals. Boca had sentenced his move to the final with a 2-0 win over San Lorenzo. River qualified after defeating defending champion UAI Urquiza on penalties.
Both teams have competed since 1991, when the eight-club women’s championship was created. The Millionaires won that first title, but they have a clear disadvantage compared to their archrival in the record: 11 titles compared to 24 for Boca. In the last match, held a year and a half ago, Boca also thrashed River 5-0.
“Dream and train hard”
In 2019, the rising popularity of women’s football in other countries and the battle waged by the player Macarena Sánchez, today the executive director of the Argentine Youth Institute, gave the final push to the claimed professionalization. Or semi-professionalization, because the Argentine Football Association only requires eight contracts per team. The salaries of the players are much lower than those of their male colleagues and most must seek additional income, but the existence of a contract guarantees them rights that they had previously lacked, such as compensation in the event of dismissal.
The professionalization also facilitated the opening of the stadiums to the soccer players, who until then always played in other facilities of their clubs, and the progressive change in the schedule of the matches. “I tell the girls to be encouraged to play, to dream and to train hard,” said Ojeda in a message addressed to those who seek to break through in this sport.