This year’s Women’s Soccer World Cup in Australia and New Zealand is a world away for Guasiana da Silva Gomes, a Brazilian indigenous leader who lives in the isolated village of Tairema, in the southern state of Sao Paulo.
But he and his teammates can still dream about it.
Gomes and his friends, indigenous and non-native, play soccer on a dusty field between a lake and many palm trees in the town of Peruibe, 138 kilometers south of São Paulo.
When few mates are available, he joins the males and plays just as brazenly in front of the females. Everything is to feed the passion that they feel will be fueled by the Women’s World Cup.
“I will find the time and place to watch it, learn the techniques, watch the best of the best,” Gomes said after competing in the indigenous people’s games for the first time in Peruibe last week. “What they do out there is what drives us here. We’re all looking for visibility.
Indigenous women of Brazil usually lead their villages and groups, but for many years they faced discrimination if they tried to play football. As the South American country improves the structure of women’s football, indigenous women have been encouraged to take up the sport.
They have done so nationally, including in the heart of the Amazon, where lower league team Hivi FC and its five indigenous players are based.
Gomes and her teammates in Peruibe hope Brazil can host the next edition of the Women’s World Cup in 2027, so they can either play the games or watch them live.
One of the young indigenous women dreaming of playing at home is teenager Suri Jara.
“Being a professional soccer player would be great, as well as doing archery and wrestling,” Jura told The Associated Press, breathless after a match at the Indigenous Games. “We need more structure to give us a chance. We play here mostly in friendlies, there are no big clubs nearby and it is difficult to go to the city and play and come back. Still, we can dream Are.”
The closest team to Peruibe in the top division is Santos, which is about 80 km from the indigenous village.
Santos, where Pele played, has a professional women’s team, but recruiters rarely travel that far from home.
The aftermath of the World Cup won’t be easy for many indigenous people living in remote areas where satellite television is scarce. Internet connections are less difficult to find and many people in their villages will use their cell phones to watch the games.
Even if technology is not a problem, many indigenous girls still have to take care of their children. The culture of many of these regions indicates that women over the age of 10 are already adults.
Many get married and become pregnant at a young age, which reduces their chances of being involved in sports.