Vatican launches women's football team with pope's blessing

Team to make its debut against AS Roma’s women’s team on 26 May

The Vatican has launched its first women’s football team, with a debut challenge against AS Roma’s Serie A women’s squad on 26 May.

More than half of the team is made up of staff working within the Vatican, as well as employees’ wives and daughters.

“Pope Francis has given considerable impulse to women within the Vatican, therefore this initiative is an extension of that,” Danilo Zennaro, a representative of Sport in Vaticano, an association that organises the Vatican’s football activities, told the Guardian.

“We’ve had a men’s team for 48 years so it was only right to offer the possibility to women who work within the Vatican to practise the sport.”

Most of the players are at amateur level, although three have played football at a high level in the past, including the captain and striker Eugene Tcheugoue, from Cameroon. The team is being managed by Susan Volpini, the secretary of the Women in the Vatican Association.

The players are training for their friendly against AS Roma, which will be followed by an international match in Vienna in June, by taking part in a tournament organised by the Vatican’s children’s hospital, Bambino Gesù.

“This will allow them to reach their best fitness and practise tactical solutions,” Volpini said.

The game against AS Roma, who came fourth in its first season in the Serie A women’s league, will be tough, but Zennaro said it was not just about winning.

“Even if they lose 30-0, this doesn’t matter,” he said. “What matters is that these women get the opportunity to know professional players. Win or lose, it’s also about creating connections and friendships.”

The Vatican launched an athletics team in January, with the aim of competing in international competitions, including the Olympics. Swiss Guards, priests, nuns and pharmacists were among the first to sign up.


Angela Giuffrida in Rome

The GuardianTramp

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