Amapá, last in the CBF ranking, makes the women’s state with five teams

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Ester Silva, 33, cannot accept that her son Ian Kawe, 18, has no interest in playing football.

“A man of 1.90 m, with that defender’s profile, doesn’t care about the ball”, he laments.

It was because of him that Ester, a left winger who played for amateur teams in Macapá, buried her dream of being a player. She got pregnant at 15 and it was impossible to continue. But if running around the edges of the field was difficult, it doesn’t compare to what you do today.

Ester is the women’s soccer coordinator at Ypiranga, the main soccer club in Amapá. The team debuts at the state this year as a favorite for the title. The first match will be this Thursday (9), against Lagoa.

“Making men’s football here is already difficult. You have no idea what women’s football is”, recalls the association’s president, Ricardo Oliveira.

Ypiranga is considered the reference in the region because it pays wages and provides accommodation for its athletes. That’s a luxury. Amapá was last placed in the CBF federation ranking in 2022, the worst results. The state, which did not happen in 2022, will only have five teams. Two are amateurs.

“We have a female squad of 25 players who came to compete in the championship because of the friendship they have with us. We cannot afford to pay anything”, warns Munjoca Soares, representative of Lagoa, rival of Ypiranga, reflecting the general picture of local football for women.

This is the reality of most athletes who will compete in the tournament in a state that has never had a representative in the national elite in the men’s category. Ypiranga was the one with the best performance in women’s history. Last year, it reached the quarterfinals of the A3 series, the last division. It was eliminated by 3B Sport, which would be runner-up.

The discrepancy is large. The Brazilian system is in a knockout match. The CBF pays BRL 10,000 for the home team and BRL 5,000 for the visiting team. Those who are eliminated in the first phase leave with only R$ 15 thousand. Each club in the men’s Série D, the lowest level of the football pyramid, pockets R$300,000.

“The award for the female Amapaense champion, in 2021, was R$ 2,000. In the men’s amateur tournament, it was R$ 10,000”, adds Ester.

This season, the winning club will receive R$7,000.

Transfer of money from the Amapaense Federation, there is none. According to directors heard by the report, the organization helps put out fires, such as when there are no uniforms or a shortage of balls for training and games.

Almost all clubs hire athletes who live close to the training venue because they cannot afford transport or accommodation. The cost of registering them is another issue the Federation has been trying to address. Until last year, the amount to regularize the situation at CBF was around R$ 1,000 per contractor. Almost the same as for men, top hats complain: R$ 1,200.

For a five-team tournament that manages to gather, at best, around 1,500 people in the stands, it is a prohibitive amount.

Ypiranga, which offers an allowance ranging from R$600 to R$700 to each athlete, is an exception. Ester says that, even so, it is too little to summarize her role to that of soccer coordinator. She needs to live the problem of the players. She works as a social worker, older sister, looks for basic food baskets for those in need. Some are mothers and insisted on football, which she did not.

When necessary, he also remembers the times when he entered the field. She was on the bench, as an option for the second half, in a match against 3B Sport.

“I need to work on their emotional part first. There is the spiritual, emotional part, the frustrations they feel… We have to take care of all that”, defines the director, who has already heard from fans, some from Ypiranga himself, questions about the need of the club having a female squad.

“Many times I was told to stop, that it wouldn’t work. They said that women’s football doesn’t pay and why would we insist. But I’m used to it. My father didn’t want me to play football because he thought I would be a lesbian.”

Most want some visibility, even with the awareness that it will not be easy. The matches will be streamed online by Eleven Sports. There are those who see the worst ranked state in the CBF ranking as a platform. A way to prepare for what’s to come this year.

“I had to return to Macapá because I had an injury that could have been surgical, but it wasn’t. The invitation to compete at the state level came up and it will be a preparation because in the second semester I’m going to the United States. I have invitations from three colleges”, says the midfielder. Iandra, who spent four seasons at Vasco.

Her passage through the team from Rio de Janeiro happened after being seen in a men’s tournament that she participated in São Paulo. There weren’t enough girls to do an all-girls championship. Romário, 1994 world champion and now a senator, saw Iandra’s video and recommended her to Vasco.

“We don’t just play football here. If it were just football, it would be easier. It’s much more than that”, sums up Ester Silva.

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