Maitte Zamorano: “We need more support”
Maitte Zamorano interview on Women’s Soccer United
Top scorer. Footballer. Athlete. Captain. Pioneer. Graduate. Coach. Champion. Leader. All those titles could perfectly apply to Maitte Zamorano.
We don’t know much about football in Bolivia but that doesn’t mean is not full of talent. And proof of that is Maitte, who from a tender age demonstrated she’s gifted in football as well as athletics.
As a goalscorer she was always leading, ending as top scorer in the national team, at Copa Libertadores and in her country’s league, Liga de Santa Cruz, several times. But she doesn’t rely only in her abilities but points out that hard work and discipline are keys.
Maitte Zamorano has been the historic Bolivia’s national team captain but the player retired after the last Copa América in Chile last April. In this exclusive interview with Women’s Soccer United, the former captain and goal scorer of Deportivo ITA, tells us more about how football is doing in her country.
Women’s Soccer United: At what age did you first start playing football and who was your first club? How old were you when you made your national team debut?
Maitte Zamorano: I practised football at 6 years old and played with boys until 12 years old. I started at 15 years old in my first club, Oriente Petrolero. For the national team, I debuted at 17.
WSU: Why did you choose football as your career?
Maitte: I chose it because it’s my life, my passion.
WSU: In Bolivia you’re also famous for being an athlete. Can you explain a little bit more about your past in athletics?
Maitte: From 19 to 29 years old I practised athletics. I run in the 100 and 200 meters race and also Standing Long Jump. I was the fastest woman in Bolivia for 9 years and I have, until this day, the record of 7.87 seconds in 60 m. My best time in 100m was 12.07s. I had the best record in Standing Long Jump for 3 years with 6m.
Athletics changed my life. Made me more disciplined and allowed me to travel to Portugal to compete at the World Indoor Championship. I also travelled to Spain, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Argentina in order to compete… I was very happy during those years. But then, in 2009 I injured my right knee during my first Copa America and everything changed. I couldn’t train at my top capacity anymore because I was always in pain. I held on for one more year and then at the end of 2010 I retired. I came back some time before and now I compete at shot put and Javelin throw.
WSU: You play for Deportivo ITA, what are other clubs have you played for whether in Bolivia or another country?
Maitte: Yes. During my career I have played for two different clubs: Orinte Petrolero and Enforma Santa Cruz which has changed its name to Deportivo Ita. For a brief time I played for Mundo Futuro, Marmol Cruz, Santa Cruz FC. But I haven’t played outside the country.
WSU: Besides being a player, you have studied to be a coach.
Maitte: After high school I knew I wanted to be a coach and that’s why I obtained my degree to be a coach. I work with boys and girls and at the same time I train, play and study. I assisted to the class for women provided for FIFA in 2015, to the CONMEBOL class in 2018 and I have studied in the CEFODE for the C category. That’s how I’m preparing for the day I decide to retire so I can work as a coach of senior teams and hopefully, the national team.
WSU: What challenges have you set as a player in your club and in the national team?
Maitte: I want to be a coach of the Bolivian national team, of the senior team or of any of the other categories. That’s my challenge.
WSU: How do you see the reality of women’s football in Bolivia?
Maitte: We only have women’s teams in 3 of the 9 departments of the country. Those are Santa Cruz, Tarija and Cochabamba. We hope this year we can get more support from the directors.
WSU: Can you explain how the Bolivian tournament organised and played and how do you chose your champion?
Maitte: Yes. Each department organises its own tournament. In my case, I played two annual tournaments, the Apertura (opening) and Clausura (closing). But for the National tournament, which gives you the opportunity to play Copa Libertadores if you win it, you play a 5 day tournament in an designated department of the country and 5 or 6 different departments are invited. The champion is decided there and the team wins a place in Copa Libertadores.
WSU: What do you think is needed to develop women’s football in Bolivia?
Maitte: I think the different directors of the federations associations and the league need to gather together to coordinate the kick off of the national tournament, that is the National League, and see what kind of needs each club has.
WSU: It was known that The Strongest has formed its women’s team. Do you think that is the way to make the sport grow in the country?
Maitte: Honestly, I didn’t know about it since there’s no women’s league in La Paz (the department the team is from). But if that’s the case I think it is very good because in that way they’re showing they value and recognise the effort we make as players and I hope other clubs can copy what they did.
WSU: What about Latino-america? What do you think needs to be done to make the sport grow?
Maitte: We need more support, economically speaking, and also more preparation for the younger categories.
WSU: How do think the Latin-American teams will do in the next world cup?
Maitte: I think it is going to be tough, difficult, even for the best in South America, Brazil. But, I heard that Chile and Argentina are preparing well for this tournament. I hope they do well.
WSU: As a kid, did you have a player that you considered your inspiration, your role model?
Maitte: I admired Mia Hamm from USA and nowadays that will be Marta.
WSU: As a footballer, what is your dream and what are your future ambitions?
Maitte: As a player, that will be playing in another country. As a coach, help to qualify my country for a World Cup.
Thank you to contributors @melinae07 and Izzy @IzzyWoso