All-girls youth soccer team win local boys' league in Spain | inside World Soccer

All-girls youth soccer team win local boys' league in Spain

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A girls-only team in Spain has scripted a unique record for winning the regional junior boys' league, despite receiving insults from spectators.

Posted by Aem Aemfutbol on Saturday, March 11, 2017

AEM Lleida, featuring girls between the ages of 12 and 14, joined the boys' league back in 2014 as the team were not getting enough competition.

In Spain, clubs are allowed to field players of any gender - including mixed teams that combine boys and girls - for junior league competitions until age 14.

In their debut season, the girls finished 12th out of 18 teams but they slowly raised their game and began to beat boys more regularly before becoming champions this year.

Lleida's amazing journey, though, wasn't without roadblocks. More than anything else, the young girls had to face unfavorable reactions from people.

"A few parents called us crazy when we registered the team," Lleida president Sergio Gonzalez told the New York Times.

"If this had gone very wrong, we would have been held responsible for humiliating the girls."

The girls have been forced to overcome major hurdles during their campaign, including abuse from the sidelines.

One referee asked coach Daniel Rodrigo whether his team had come to the wrong match and proceeded to refer to the players as las princesas - the princesses - throughout the game.

Lleida director José María Salmerón added: "It's really been more a problem for parents rather than their boys.

"It's strange, but most of the macho comments and insults have come from the mothers of some of the boys we play."

One parent, Ana Maria Biela, even admitted that she was reluctant to allow her daughter, Cristina, to compete against boys.

"I delayed as long as possible because I was afraid that she would get hurt by the boys," Biela said.

"She kept answering that she could also hurt boys."

In Lleida's final home game, they beat their toughest rivals this season, the boys from La Noguera, a club from about 12 miles away.

"It's hard to lose against girls," said La Noguera player Oriol Marchal. "But these ones really are very good."

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