Dreams do sometimes come true. The best way to reach them is through hope and - most importantly - hard work. The Malaga women's football team have one dream in particular: making it to the First Division. They are already champions of their league and now they've set their sights on the play-offs for promotion, where seven teams will fight for two places within the elite of women's football.
Malaga Feminino, coached by Antonio Contreras, is local through-and-through. Eight players come from the province of Malaga: Encarni, Noelia, Sandra, Postigo, Ruth, Farfán, Janira and María Ruiz. The team has climbed the ranks of Group IV of the Second Division and are now within touching distance of First.
“We were keen to win the match against Pozoalbense and therefore accomplish the first part of our objective for the season,” confesses Ruth, who, at 17 years old is one of the youngest members of the Malaga squad.
Midfielder Sandra says that playing for their own city is something that gives the women a lot of pride. “I believe that we have a huge responsibility. We want to get to First.” Postigo adds: “to be able to say that we have made it to playoffs representing our own city is very significant for us.”
Hope for the play-offs
The play-offs are a hot topic for discussion among the Malaga team: this is something they have been working towards for the entire season. Seven teams will fight for two places in the First Division through elimination (semi-final and final) and a tournament between three teams.
“What we really want is to go up. We're not going to place too much importance on the format of the play-offs; moving up is what we have promised ourselves and the rest doesn't matter as much,” explains María Ruiz, one of the captains of the team.
Janira reveals that the team have made a vow among themselves. “If we manage to win the league and move up to First, we have all decided to get a tattoo; it will stay with us forever,” says the 21-year-old defender.
All of the Malaga team members are grateful for what they have learnt this season, for their new-found confidence and improved technique. “Tactically, we've learnt a lot and that has made us more professional,” explains Encarni. María Farfán, another of the team's young hopefuls, adds: “We have always worked with the same intensity as a a team from the First Division.” From Postigo's point of view, the team has evolved a great deal . “If you had seen us at the start of the season, you would appreciate how far we've come.”
Women's sport has gone from strength to strength in recent years and Malaga's teams are an excellent example. The Rincón Fertilidad women's handball team has represented the city in the European competitions. “We have noticed that the number of young female football fans is growing in Malaga. Girls are playing more sport at school,” confirms Janira. Her teammate, Sandra confesses that many members of the team met with difficulties during the first few years of their footballing careers. “We played on children's teams, but there weren't any teams created specifically for girls,” says the Malaga local, who currently is off the pitch due to an injury.
Another shining example of women in sport are Malaga's reserve team. On Saturday 21 April, they were proclaimed champions of their group in Andalucía's Second Division after beating the Benalmádena team 3-1. Now they move on to the play-offs for promotion into the National Second Division.