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MEET OUR FUTBOLITAS
Ashikin Hashim
Wed, Jun 09, 2010
The New Paper

MEET the 'Futbolitas del Mundo'.

They are 12 diverse and fired up individuals from all over the world who will be the pulse of their nations for The New Paper during the World Cup.

From a professional make-up artist in South Africa to a former US Under-23 national player who is now a familiar face on her country's TV network, they all represent the international and female voices of 'futbol'.

And we've even roped in Liverpool TV's female face - the bubbly Claire Rourke - to represent England.

You see, two months ago, we started our search for these passionate futbolitas on our website, Futbolita.com in a tie-up with The New Paper.

Within three weeks, we received droves of recommendations and applications from all over the world.

'I want to be the next Futbolita,' wrote Nicole Cristo, a 17-year-old student from Mexico. 'I've watched Spain since 1984 and I've laughed cried and suffered with them. I deserve to be Spain's Futbolita,' added Elisa Uranga, a Spaniard who co-hosts several La Liga podcasts.

'Living in the US, I have a lot of opinions and emotions and would like to bring American soccer to the world,' said Kiran Palla, a US applicant.

'Football isn't just important to me - it's my life. That's why I deserve to represent Italy as their Futbolita,' declared Rosaria Scardino.

And believe me, as a woman myself, I can definitely relate to their fanaticism.

After all, football is no longer exclusively a man's domain, and in our interview with him in March, Spanish star striker David Villa too was thrilled to see more women in football.

'I think women are very passionate when they are encouraged to play. It's also positive for us that there are more female supporters of the game now,' Villa told us.

In addition, Brazilian midfielder Kaka's wife, Caroline Celico, was equally pleased to learn about it.

'I'm glad to hear about Futbolita del Mundo and this project involving women in sports,' she said.

US representative, Temryss Lane, a native American who can be seen on Fox Soccer Channel, stood out as the best candidate to represent her country.

The former U-23 defender for the United States national team said: 'The job as the US Futbolita is for me.'

Indeed, our 'chicas' also come from various walks of life.

Sports symbol

Dolores Calderon, 36, who is our official Mexican Futbolita, said that she wanted to preserve the memory of her beloved father, who was a sports symbol in her hometown.

'I want to do it in my late dad's honour and for all the suffering through the indignities of the drug war in Juarez and neighbouring communities,' the educator said.

Julia Richter, a 27-year-old post-graduate student who is pursuing her Masters in Sports Marketing from Frankfurt also works at her local club as their substitute 'stadium announcer', no less.

'Football is my heart, my soul and everything I am. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, I wake up nervously wondering what will happen on match day in the Bundesliga and other leagues in the world,' explained Richter.

As for Rourke, our 'amiga' who works at Liverpool TV, was equally ecstatic to represent the Three Lions.

'I am so excited. I love all the build up to football's showpiece event and now that I am going to be part of it with Futbolita, it's going to make it all the more entertaining,' said Rourke, whose club skipper Steven Gerrard is now the captain of her national team.

And the passion continued to flow from other parts of Europe.

Spain's Christina Santos, who is based in Madrid - 10 minutes away from the Santiago Bernabeu - considers Spain's victory in Euro08 as the 'greatest day of my life'.

N'Bellia Guerchouche from France, who is a translator by profession, declared that 'women must have their say, and that's why I think this is a great idea'.

In her case, the gorgeous Yohann Gourcuff from her home team of Bordeaux is another reason to support 'le beau jeu' (the beautiful game).

Hanneke, the fanatical Dutch Futbolita from Eindhoven explained: 'My country deserves me as their Futbolita representative because I can show all of you what great footballers we have from our great football nation.'

Portugal's Monica Knoeson, who is based in South Africa, is the group's only 'mama', being a mother of two children.

In South America, Raio Gomes, an undergraduate journalism student from Brasilia represents powerhouses, the 'Selecao Brasileira'.

'I woke up this morning and my entire neighbourhood was painted yellow and green,' Gomes shared via text message 2 days ago.

So get ready, these World Cup Futbolitas are ready to welcome you into their worlds throughout this month and early next month.

So vamos and let the matches begin.


Join our Futbolitas this World Cup

THE FUTBOLITAS

  • BRAZIL: Raio Gomes
    Journalism student from Brasilia

  • ENGLAND: Claire Rourke
    Female host of Liverpool FC TV in England

  • US: Temryss Lane
    Host of Fox Soccer Channel

  • HOLLAND: Hanneke
    In university doing her Masters in law

  • FRANCE: N'Bellia Guerchouche
    An avid Bordeaux FC blogger who works as a translator for Yohann Gourcuff

  • GERMANY: Julia Richter
    Doing her Masters in Sports Marketing and Communications

  • MEXICO: Dolores Calderon
    An educator who is doing this in honour of her late father

  • SOUTH AFRICA: Nabilah Bham
    Corporate Communications student based in South Africa

  • SPAIN: Christina Santos
    Experienced writer, blogger and editor online.

  • ITALY: Verdiana Vetrano
    Based in Milan, she is a passionate bella who speaks, breathe and lives calcio

  • PORTUGAL: Monica Knoeson, who is based in South Africa, is the group's only 'mama', being a mother of two.


    HOW TO CONNECT WITH THEM

    SHOULD Fabio Capello stick with the 4-4-2, or will Argentina prove to be the surprise package of the tournament?

    Be it match- or team-specific, or a general question about the World Cup Finals, if you have a question for our Futbolitas, send it to us, and we will get it answered for you.

    Please stick to football-related questions though.

    Send your questions throughout the week to tnppostman@gmail.com. Deadline is 4pm every Friday.

    Please indicate which Futbolita you are directing the question at.

    We will choose the 10 best questions and their answers to appear in print soon after.

    The remaining approved Q and As that do not appear in print will appear on tnppostman.com later.

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