Women’s Soccer United spoke to Vanesa Santana, the 24 year old midfielder who plays for Boca Juniors and Argentina Women’s National Team.
Women’s Soccer United: Argentina finished in fourth place in the Copa America, Ecuador 2014. What is your assessment of Argentina’s performance?
Vanesa Santana: Well, with a lot of effort and grit that we put into every match we earned the opportunity of playing in a play-off, but unfortunately we were unlucky and missed out on qualification for the Women’s World Cup. We did have regular balance throughout.
WSU: The next FIFA Women’s World Cup is coming and Argentina did not classify for this edition, nor did they do so for the previous one. We can say this happened due to the strengthening of other teams in South America as, for example, Colombia. In your opinion, what does Argentina need to do to achieve better results in women’s football?
Vanesa Santana: I believe that most of the South American teams have achieved a lot of growth. Colombia is an example and they are a team which has grown a lot in these past years and Argentina needs to grow much more. Argentina knows how to do it and can grow much more but what we are missing in women’s football in Argentina is more professionalism and the opportunity to compete in international friendlies.
WSU: Currently, you’re playing for Boca Juniors, the most successful football team of Argentina, not only in men’s football but also in women’s football. How is the experience to be a footballer in your country?
Vanesa Santana: Yes, nowadays I am lucky to play in one of the best clubs, Boca Juniors. Well, I started playing in Boca in 2006, after doing a trial in late 2005, and today I have nine years playing for Boca Juniors and I have a very nice experience during which I was involved in unique moments, for example, I won Championships, which are moments of happiness and pure joy that football gives. Also I played in the super classics against Rivera and San Lorenzo, which are matches where you leave everything aside. Also the most beautiful thing is to be in the Copa Libertadores, I played four Libertadores with Boca and it was a great pleasure and I had the misfortune of not playing in the last edition due to injury.
WSU: Unfortunately, you missed the Tournament in Brasilia, in December, against Brazil, China and USA, due to injury. In your opinion, how important are tournaments like these, since we hardly ever get to see Argentina competing in friendly matches?
Vanesa Santana: Yes, I was unlucky not to be in the last tournament with the Argentinian women’s national team due to my injury. It was difficult for me to accept this but now it has passed. For us, these tournaments are very important, because these tournaments are what we need in order to grow as a team and as players. We have to go step by step and try to have international matches such as this tournament in Brazil, playing with these top world teams that will encourage growth for Argentina. Perhaps, firstly it will cost us, but participating in more and more friendly matches, in my opinion, Argentina will grow a lot. But, we also have to grow the game in Argentina like it is growing in every country. And each international match that Argentina plays in will all count because it is the best way to start and move forward.
WSU: Argentina ranked last in this tournament. However, the team played without two key players (Estefania Banini and you) and a new coaching staff took charge of Argentina women’s national team recently. How do you evaluate the performance of Argentina in Brasilia?
Vanesa Santana: Yes, there was much change in Argentina such as a new technical body. Even though I don’t know them much, because everything was very fast and my injury did not allow me to be in any training camp. But I know they are good and they want the growth of Argentina, and about the matches, the ones that I saw, the Argentine team had a lot of attitude and although they came out in last position this result serves, perhaps today we are the last but still working hard and having international friendlies maybe tomorrow we will be playing in a final. Argentinian girls want to grow and the urge to do so is always there.
WSU: Would you ever consider playing in a league abroad? If yes, what league would you ideally like to compete in and why?
Vanesa Santana: Since I was a little girl I wanted to play abroad. I dreamed of playing in Sweden, Europe and even now my dream is to have the opportunity to play there someday. And I would like this because I have always dreamed of playing outside my home country and because I want to grow as a player and enjoy football and play on other fields, I am eager to learn day by day.
WSU: Who would you describe as the best player you have played against and the best player you’ve played with?
Vanesa Santana: In South America one of the best players I played against has been Formiga of Brazil WNT. Because her experience on the field and her knowledge of the game on the pitch. I never had the opportunity to face Marta, that surely would be one of the best. And of Argentina WNT, one of the best players that I had the pleasure of playing with is Estefanía Banini, she is one of the most skilful players that Argentina has.
WSU: Finally, what advice would you give to those youngsters who want to play but find their paths blocked?
Vanesa Santana: Well, to young football players I would advise them that beyond all the obstacles that life throws at you, if football is what you most want, you should fight for your goals and dreams. All is possible and enjoy it because it is a beautiful game and always try to have fun doing what you most love which is playing football. Do not let anyone destroy your dreams, because it’s you by yourself that has to choose until you are where you want to reach and support yourself with people that want to see you succeed.
WSU: I would like to thank you for the interview and also wish good luck in your career.
Women’s football enthusiast based in Brazil. Supporting and raising the profile of the women’s game.