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Mexico hopes new women’s pro soccer league will boost its national team

June 26, 2017

Santos Laguna’s new women’s side will compete in the 16-team league.

Yuliana Adriano started playing soccer at age 7 at her parent’s ranch in Esmeralda, a village with 2,000 inhabitants in the northern Mexican state of Durango. She dreamed of playing professionally one day, but understood that would be unlikely since there was no professional women’s league in Mexico.

After leaving home to receive a better education and play for a school team, Adriano was called up to Durango’s state all star team, although they only trained and played together sporadically. And yet Adriano continued to improve. By the time she became a teenager, Adriano was a bonafide talent. And coincidentally, at that exact same time, the Mexican soccer federation announced the formation of the Liga MX Femenil, a 16-team league that kicks off on July 29. Adriano, 14, was signed by the league and assigned to the Santos Laguna team.

“We’re going to put a lot of effort in so that they make the women’s league equal to the men’s one,” Adriano said with a smile. “I’d love for us to have the same wages and all the things that they have. We’re going to show them that being men doesn’t make them better than us.”

14-year-old Yuliana Adriano scored the first goal in the history of Santos’ women’s team. (Photo by Kim Tate/Santos Laguna)

This is the first women’s competition in Mexico to mirror the men’s Liga MX, with each season split between Apertura and Clausura tournaments. The only structural difference is that the clubs will be divided into two eight-team groups, with the top two from each group going through to the playoff semifinals. The first final will take place in December.

There are still many hurdles for the league to overcome—particularly with regard to wages, broadcast rights and sponsorship—but the hope is that the league will help raise the level of the women’s national team and create opportunities for girls like Adriano to fulfill their potential…

Click here to read this story in full at VICE Sports

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