This summer saw an unprecedented level of attention given to the women’s game, and nowhere was that more apparent than in Brazil, where women have been struggling for recognition for years. It’s something that Andressa Alves was thrilled about, as we found out when we caught up with her at Nike’s launch event for the Mercurial in Paris.

For Andressa, who had to use the heads of dolls as footballs when growing up, it’s recognition that is long overdue. We sat down with the Brazilian striker – who has just been announced as an AS Roma player following a two year spell with Barcelona – to talk about her journey in the game so far and her battle for equality…

Andressa, can you tell us a bit about your journey in the game so far? There must have been so many highs and lows to get to where you have?

For sure, it's been quite a difficult journey for me, since Brazil is very much dominated by men’s football. But through hard work and determination I managed to negotiate the hurdles, eventually getting my break and moving to France to play for Montpellier before becoming the first Brazilian female to play for Barcelona.

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It’s one of the first times in Brazil where shops and businesses were closing so that people could watch the matches and support the Brazilian women."

Can you set the scene for what it was like where you were growing up and learning to play as a female player? Did you have to pretend to be like one of the boys?

Yeah, I started playing in the boys team, because in Brazil they only had boys teams playing football. I had to show my ability and skill that much more just to be able to play.

Has that masculine culture changed at all in Brazil?

It has changed a lot, especially during this World Cup. It’s had a big following in Brazil, and that shows how the mindset has changed. 

Coming to France, exploring the world and doing things with Nike, does it feel like you’re finally getting that reward for everything that you’ve worked so hard for? 

Of course, it’s a big reward. All of the things that Nike has been doing with not just the Brazilian team, but with all the international teams, it's been fantastic. It’s very important to get that mindset changing and evolving.

Do you feel the game has changed over the last few years, and how has the hype around this tournament compared to other games and tournaments that you’ve been involved in?

It’s one of the first times in Brazil where shops and businesses were closing so that people could watch the matches and support the Brazilian women. It was so important for us as a team to feel that support and to feel as important as the men’s team.

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We heard Marta give that piece to camera after a game, but what can we all do to make sure that women’s football isn’t just a trend for this summer?

Part of the work is down to the athletes, just as Marta showed, but there is also work that has to be done in Brazil by the clubs, because a lot of them don’t currently have youth teams for girls, while in Europe it’s far more accessible. 

Can you tell me about your neck tattoo, what’s the inspiration for it?

I’ve always liked the idea around diamonds; it’s always given me confidence. In Brazil, people are very religious, so I wanted to add the word ‘faith’ too.

How much do you like to express yourself through what you wear and how you dress? Things like tattoos obviously, it’s a chance to show a bit of your personality…

This is actually my first tattoo and I wanted to have it somewhere that everyone would see. What’s quite funny now is that in the street people didn't used to recognise me, but now, when they see the tattoo, they know it’s me!

With the new Mercurial, you’re able to customise the boot, so what would you put on there?

I’d definitely have the diamond, as it’s kind of my symbol, and then my number, 7.


Photography by Jeremie Masuka and for SoccerBible.