stories

A Girl's Dream

In the field of Güemes district, the largest one of the Slum 31, more tan soccer matches are played there. A group of women decided that on that field was also in dispute her right to play and to achieve a different reality, not the one that was supposedly meant for them, according to their social conditions of inhabitants of a slum and to their assigned gender role. Both categories lose its abstraction when we see them incarnated in a forbidding family, in judging neighbors, in a partner demanding domestic labours, in a city that marginalize certain people and their ways to live in it.

These women decided that this soccer field will be the territory on which they will engrave the struggle to conquest their dream. And to affirm it, inside one of the most emblematic slums of Buenos Aires City, is no game. The last National Census of 2010 stated that there were over 27 thousand people living inside the slum, and the current estimations rose to 40 thousand, marking a constant growth on a fixed space. On that context, in which every square feet counts and every house is built with the idea of being the foundation for the next one to come, a soccer field is also a territory in dispute, is the theatre in which the life of the community is played and the meeting point where belongings and rivalries can be solved.

With that idea they started, on 2007, La Nuestra Fútbol Femenino (Ours, Female Soccer), a civil association of coaches, educators and players, that soon became a space of contention for the soccer team called “Las Aliadas de la 31” (The allies of the 31). These women, young girls and teenagers, have accomplished a fixed schedule of training by dint of literally placing their bodies to face the monopoly of male soccer. Today every neighbor knows that on Tuesday and Thursday’s afternoon the field belongs to the girls.

Nowadays, La Nuestra has approximately 50 women, all playing for the senior team, Las Aliadas, and they have recently opened a space for little girls –many of them daughters and sisters of the senior ones- called the Mini-Aliadas.

They have also opened a space to share words and thoughts in which they deal with organisational issues, with their perceptions and feelings on the activity and they also acquire resources to face situations of inequality, discrimination and gender violence of which they are victims.

To the team La Nuestra, soccer is the goal and also the tool; from a perspective in which sport, as a dynamic factor to develop social, collective and groundbreaking practices, these women strengthen their identity, they break gender stereotypes, they own their reproductive health and they open paths that will be later walked by other women.

La Nuestra is a team, it's a thriving tribe, it occupies territory and it waters the ground with sweat and blood, La Nuestra is made by beautiful and strong women who no longer take a “move away, babe, this is a men’s sport” for an answer.

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Anahí Martiarena, 19 years old, play in Las Aliadas since 2007.

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Güemes district, Slum 31. The female soccer team “Las Aliadas”, trains every Tuesday and Thursday at dawn, since 2007. The entire neighborhood knows that the field belongs to them on those days.

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Las Aliadas, during a chat after practice. In front Dalia Leiva, 16 years old, wearing the shirt of the argentinian national football team and, on her left, Tamara Romero, 25 years old.

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Jimena Terrazas, 17 years old, play in Las Aliadas since 2012.

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Some men support their partners when they play soccer, taking care of the kids and the domestic tasks that are usually associated to female labours. X picks up his son so Natalia, her mother, can train.

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Juliana Román Lozano, anthropologist who has recently became Coach, joined Las Aliadas on 2010. Here on a coaching talk with the Mini-Aliadas after practice.

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Even though Las Aliadas earned a training space on the field of Güemes district, they don’t have proper facilities to develop this activity. Some neighbors help by providing water.

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Constanza Rojas, 25 años, lives with her mother and sister. She leaves home to go to soccer practice. Slum 31 has a very high demographic density. On the last 5 years, it grew 40%, despite the government prohibition on house building.

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Silvina (32) and Milagros Barraza (10), mother and daughter, on the kitchen, getting ready for practice; Silvina plays for Las Aliadas and Milagros for the Mini-Aliadas.

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On 1990, the President Illía Highway was built; it passes by the Slum. Many of their inhabitants were evicted in order to allow the construction of this highway. Today it functions as a roof to the houses and shops of the main street of the Slum.

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Judith Muhamad, 22, with her son Alan, 1 year old; she works as a recycler, looking for anything that might be useful to sell at the slum fair; in her limited free time, she tries to attend practices.

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Many of Las Aliadas's players have suffered and still suffer much criticism for practicing a mostly masculine sport, but they desire to play becomes stronger with every obstacle they encounter.

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View of Güemes district, Slum 31. According to recent estimations, 40 thousand people live in the Slum. The habitational situation is critical but there won’t be building projects on the soccer field.... (+)

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Gisela Luna, 21, with her daughter Valentina, 1 year old, she re-joined training after a break due to maternity leave.

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Two little girls, players of the Mini Aliadas, run on the hallways of Güemes district, with a flag of their team.

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Monica Santino’s 50th birthday celebration, with players of La Nuestra Female Soccer who hired “mariachis” to entertain the party.

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Player from Bajo Flores, a rival team of Las Aliadas, after a match.

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Members of La Nuestra Female Soccer, celebrating on the grandstand.

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Players from Las Aliadas leave the field after a match. Many of them perform their activities joined by their kids and nephews.

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Dalia Leiva, 16 years old, play in Las Aliadas since 2013.

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In La Nuestra Female Soccer, they consider soccer as a political and cultural fact, that defies gender stereotypes projected on women.

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Agustina Bolaño, 15 years old, play in Mini-Aliadas.

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View of the main street of the Slum 31. Despite the habitational problems, the community managed to organize spaces for the market to function and other spaces for sports and leisure.

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Mónica Santino (50), Las Aliadas coach and one of the biggest names in female soccer in Argentina. Former professional soccer player and LGBT activist pioneer, she is one of the founders of the project La Nuestra.

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Constanza Rojas was raised on Slum 21. She loves soccer since she was very little but when she became a teenager her parents forbid her to play, because she looked like a “tomboy”, they said.... (+)

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Jimena Aón, 36 years old, a member of COCOIN, a group of educators that brings emotional and social support to the players. In the picture, Jimena at a demonstration against femicide and gender violence.

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