Health

The feminist faces of Brazilian soccer

For the women playing soccer in Brazil, their biggest challenge can be found off the pitch, as photo-journalist Isabella Melody Moore discovered.

The 2014 World Cup once again demonstrated that Brazilians are passionate about their soccer.

Brazil stops to watch their team and the men who play are considered Gods on earth.

But that passion presents a double standard when it comes to the women involved in the sport as photo-journalist Isabella Melody Moore discovered when travelling the South American nation.

The Sydney-based snapper photographed several aspiring female soccer players while in Brazil and learned that these women – despite their passion – have to fight to be recognised in the male dominated arena.

“They have a great determination and spirit and I admired the way they spoke openly about their passion for playing soccer but sadly they talked about gender inequalities that go along with it,” Moore told The Weekly.

“I learnt that trying to make a career out of a fiercely male dominated national sport is something I see as very brave.”

Moore embarked on the project not long after the sports brand Adidas was criticised for releasing a controversial World Cup ad campaign which featured a bikini-clad woman holding a soccer ball with the words “Lookin’ to score”.

After a request from the Brazilian tourism board to reconsider the slogan the sports giant pulled the shirt but the campaign had already touched a nerve with the women of Brazil who struggle with stereotypes that hint at sexual objectification and exploitation.

Moore told The Weekly that the women she met deserved more recognition and said, “they deserve better opportunities to help them further themselves within the sport.”

The women of Brazil still struggle with equality on and off the pitch. It’s a place women’s wages are about 75 per cent less than a man’s and dominating Catholic values and lack of education mean that sexiest gender roles are rampant – a woman’s place is in the home.

But Moore hopes that people can see the hope for the next generation in her pictures.

“I would say it was both eye opening and profoundly inspiring to photograph these strong and warm hearted Brazilian women,” said Moore.

“I hope that women and predominately sports women can appreciate that in Australia, we don’t experience the same degree of sexism driven by males towards females through sport, because our society is not predominately ‘macho’ led like it tends to be in South America.”

Pictures by Isabella Melody Moore via her website itswhatartis and via her itswhatartis Instagram. Additional words by Anna Kaiser.

Aline França, 24, waits after her women’s football tournament was canceled in the Borel favela in Rio de Janeiro. She says she lives for football but feels she was born in the wrong country, because opportunities for women in soccer are more abundant abroad. But she does whatever she can to continue playing the game – including doing military service in the past to play with the Armed Forces women’s team, and currently balancing work, school and football. Picture by Isabella Melody Moore via itswhatartis

Rhaiane Leitão de Andrade (center) coaches football to blind children and adults. She sits with two of her students Felipe Sabine (left) and Thiago Nascimento (right) at a national tournament in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Working with the blind and vision impaired boys is no problem – they respect and learn from her, plus she’s used to being the only girl around because she’s grown up being involved in football. Out of the nine teams for blind players in Brazil, she is the only woman among all the coaches and players. She says she would like to start a girls team, but that, “It’s difficult to find a woman who plays a man’s sport – it’s even more difficult to find a blind woman who plays.” Picture by Isabella Melody Moore via itswhatartis

Rebecca Cristiny, 12, at football practice in Complexo da Penha favela in Rio de Janeiro. Rebecca is on the women’s team that took home the championship at the “Street Child’s World Cup” held in Rio earlier this year. She said winning was one of the best moments of her life. It was so emotional, that she felt as if she had won the World Cup. Picture by Isabella Melody Moore via itswhatartis

Joyce Rocha, 15, (left) and Juliana, 18, (right) in their bedroom in Recreio in Rio de Janeiro. For the two sisters football is an every day battle, but, because of this fight, women’s football in Brazil has more heart. Their mother admits that most parents wouldn’t support their two daughters playing football but from an early age, her daughters only played with footballs, as oppose to dolls. Picture by Isabella Melody Moore via itswhatartis

Danielle Lott, with the flag of her soccer team, Fluminense. Danielle and her female friends are among the most active supporters at her team’s games, but they face discrimination and violence for being female fans from opposing supporters. Ever since she and other female fans were caught in the middle of a fight leaving a rival team’s stadium, she has taken up jiu-jitsu and other martial arts classes to protect herself. Picture by Isabella Melody Moore via itswhatartis

Jéssica Maria, 18, participates in the Favela Street program, which aims to give youth formerly involved with drug trafficking an outlet to play football. Jessica uses football as a distraction from problems in her life, but says she experiences huge amounts of prejudice playing the sport; people have called her racist and sexist names like “monkey” and “dyke.” Picture by Isabella Melody Moore via itswhatartis

Jéssica Medeiros, 23, is another member of the Favela Street program. Her mother has eventually come to accept her as a female football player, but her grandmother largely disapproves. When she tries to play football with the kids in her neighborhood some boys will allow it but others yell at her that football is for men and that women are supposed to wash clothes and take care of the house. Picture by Isabella Melody Moore via itswhatartis

Dryka Santos, 18, is the captain of the championship team of the “Street Child’s World Cup.” She dreamed of playing professionally during adolescence, but now says she’s more realistic and grounded, knowing that opportunities tend to lack. But, winning the Cup was a huge boost of confidence for her and the team, as she said they gained recognition for winning a tournament representing Brazil. Picture by Isabella Melody Moore via itswhatartis

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