Ant says goodbye to the national team leaving a legacy and a vacuum

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Miraildes Maciel Mota was born in 1978, a year before the end of the ban on women’s football in Brazil. He started playing ball at seven, on the streets of Salvador, capital of Bahia, and even got beaten up by his own brothers for daring to face the boys in the game.

At 17, he played in his first World Cup. She heard that the then coach of the national team, Dema (Ademar Fonseca Junior), was irresponsible for putting her on the field.

Today, at 43, Miraildes says goodbye to the Brazilian team as the record holder in matches played across the country, in Olympic participation (seven), in participation in the World Cup (also seven) and having dedicated 26 years, more than half of his life, to national team shirt.

Formiga, nickname that accompanied her in her trajectory on the lawns, ends her career in the Brazilian national team as the winner. Not necessarily for titles — she was champion of America, twice Olympic medalist and three-time champion of both the Pan-American and the Libertadores —, but mainly because she has overcome the prejudice of those who once thought that soccer was not her place.

TO sheet, Formiga did not hide his motivation to continue playing, even at 43 years old. In an interview, before the Tokyo Olympics, he replied: “Mostly the criticisms”.

“[Falavam] For my mother to take me out of soccer, because I wouldn’t do anything, because I would end up getting pregnant fast, because I used to walk among the boys, and so on. These things, they called me a macho woman, who in a little while I was going to be stealing… These are things that really became fuel for me […] And my answer is there”.

Formiga was not only an answer to critics, but also (and perhaps mainly) to thousands of girls who wondered if it was even possible to be a soccer player.

Together with Marta and Cristiane, she formed the trio that made history in women’s football in Brazil and which, as she is keen to point out, continued the work of the so-called “pioneers”, the previous generation of players that is still little recognized today.

Formiga says goodbye to the national team 30 years after the first women’s World Cup in history, the only one she did not compete in.

Their last game takes place this Thursday (25), against India. The match is scheduled for 22:00 (GMT), at Arena Amazônia, and will be broadcast on SporTV.

However, not everything is a party. “I’m in Manaus and there is absolutely no publicity about the game here,” said journalist Helena Rebello, on Tuesday night (22), with two days to go.

As pointed out by Renata Mendonça, columnist at Sheet, the match didn’t even have a set time until Monday night (21). Tickets only went on sale the following afternoon, less than 72 hours before the friendly — and the cheapest cost R$80.

“The CBF is right when it sets a farewell to Formiga, but it makes too many mistakes in everything it does after that. The game was announced on November 9. They should have announced ticket details that week. They should have used the last 14 days to promote this event with the grandeur it deserves,” says Mendonça.

A contrast, for example, with Carli Loyd’s farewell to the United States team, in October this year: packed stadium and almost 2 minutes of applause and hugs between the moment the plaque announced it would be replaced and the moment when the player actually left the field.

Formiga will leave a Brazilian team completely different from the one he found 26 years ago. In 1995, the national team didn’t even play friendlies. It was impossible to think about sustaining your life through sport.

Although the scenario today is far from ideal, it was Formiga’s generation that managed to revolutionize women’s football in the country – and also in the world. His farewell also opens a vacuum, and not just in the midfield of the national team.

“It’s already difficult to produce one ace; producing three, in the same generation, is almost impossible. The point is that Brazil has lost talent to other countries, because it doesn’t invest in the base and doesn’t provide conditions for the girls. Catarina Macario, Brazilian, chose to represent the American team because he has been there since he was 12, 13 years old and is treated as a great promise. I have no doubt that we have already lost countless Martas, Cristianes and Formigas in recent decades”, concludes the columnist.

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