Below you will find the exclusive interview with Natalia Gitan, captain of the Colombian women’s national team.
Regardless of space, she was one of the players who championed women’s football most, denounced, demanded equality and more. What’s the point of the new podcast, We All Talk, where you share?
It was a beautiful experience. We spoke with Catalina Osmy and the guests about what we like most about the role and performance of women in sports. Plus, what it meant to be in a world that was considered sport, historically, depending on men. There, we also talked about how we started our career, the challenges we faced and the expectations in making the female presence in sport visible and broad.
What can be done to change this vision of women’s sports?
There is no magic wand, you must start with small actions that lead to this change of mind. For example, in the world, 97% of media content is about men’s sports and only 3% about women. That last percentage should be increased. Athletes’ stories should be presented more often. For example, the case of Leicy Santos, who was born in a very small town on the coast, went to Bogota from a young age in search of a better future and, thanks to her talent, changed her reality. It is important to highlight all this and not “Ranking the 10 Most Beautiful Footballers in the World Cup”. The fact that women are seen as an object and appreciation for their athletic performance, medals, achievements, and life stories should be removed.
Does this message also apply to leaders? How do they avoid stopping to see women’s football as an expense rather than an investment?
With the results, women’s football has shown several indications that it deserves significant space. Huila is the hero of the Copa Libertadores. America, Summer of Libertadores. He held the final between Medellin and America stadiums; The arguments are many and valid. Therefore, leaders must realize and understand that they are an important part of women’s sport because they are the ones who make the decisions about what to do, how to do it, how long the league will last, when and where. They set the rules and we need those rules to broaden the scope to see women’s sport as a product, make it more attractive and sell to sponsors to get closer to the federations and the Demayor.
What would your ideal league be?
It seems that the number of teams is enough for me. The league must first be boosted with a small number of clubs. It would be good if it was two editions of 4 months, or a longer version of 8 months. Of course, it’s clear to me the duration has to be longer because when it’s booming, it’s great, but then we’re not talking about women’s football until the start of the other league.
The US women’s team, which is a policy-advocate and is based on sport, has achieved equal pay. How far are we from achieving this in Colombia?
Today, I see it a little further and further considering the reality we live in, adding to it all the effects the pandemic is generating. Plus, we could have progressed a bit more in recent years with recent results and that we shouldn’t just focus on whether they have something, but rather give them this. I hope I’m wrong, but I see it complicated. Of course, there’s more interest from society in general and it’s important. That is why I reiterate the importance of the role of leaders in women’s sport.
Among your plans to get to leadership to change that panorama?
I want to continue to be involved in sports, especially football to help girls who start, have more opportunities and guarantees, have a developed league, dream of being a pro to go to the World Cup, and there are guarantees and opportunities that we may not have had at that time. For now, I don’t know where to start, but I want to continue down this path.
You said, “There is more interest in women’s football in society”, what is the focal point of this happening?
It is a relationship that has grown strongly over the years. In my opinion, the defining moment was the South American U-17 Women’s Championship title in 2008. In fact, from that moment on, they started telling us “superpowers”. This is how we gain a place in people’s daily conversations. Then we got other good results like qualifying for the World Cup and the Olympics. Also, in 2015, when we beat France at the orbital date in Canada. Finally, the cherry on the cake was gold at the Pan American Games 2019. All this and it was done at club level, like Huila and America, made us gain a place in people’s hearts and they thank us for leaving the name of the country high. We hope that everything will be a more stable and supportive league for the national team in all its categories.
Having been in the United States and now in Spain, where women’s football is so important, what is missing in Colombia in the cultural, sports, social and other fields?
It’s a complicated question. In every level there are things to do. First, work on smaller divisions. It is important to teach players some concepts from a young age because they may not see football as a life project, but as a study tool like me. In the same way, it is essential that they have gym equipment such as guides and leg protectors and they can compete. Then go ahead and trust him. You must follow it. For example, in the national team we rarely get rallies. We want it to be more consistent.
He’s currently recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, but what’s next this season?
For the time being, as I said, I am focusing on recovery. I am already in the final stage. I hope to be back on the field in a couple of months. Then I want to go back to the national team and participate in the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2023. From there, start thinking about what I can do and contribute from outside the stadiums, thus staying connected in that match of fighting for equality in football and women’s sports.
Would we have a chance to see her play in the Colombian League?
(Laughs) This is in my plans. However, I am waiting for the league to become stronger and more permanent because otherwise it is difficult. In Spain, I have a one-year contract. The opposite is the case in Colombia, where, unfortunately, the contracts did not exceed three months. Seeing it from the rational side and not much from the heart is hard, but wait.