Meet Evelina Cabrera, a former professional football player, a current football coach and trainer, an activist transforming women’s football in Latin America, and in her spare time, a Barça Universitas student. We caught up with Evelina to talk about her studies, her on-going and future projects, and her views on the current and future situation of women’s football.
Who is Evelina Cabrera?
Let’s start by talking about who Evelina Cabrera is. It’s difficult to summarise it in just a few words, but if we had to, we would say Evelina is a force to be reckoned with. She started her career in the sports industry as a football player, after a health problem she began studying to become a football coach. She went through various clubs as a coach, then as a sports manager. She has worked at the Atlético Boca Juniors club in Gender and Sports and as a sports coach at the Pachuca Football club in Mexico, for the male sub-20 team of the club, becoming the first woman to be part of a CT in the Mexican league.
But she did not stop there. Evelina has transformed the football scene for women in Argentina. She founded the Argentine Women’s Football Association (AFFAR) along with other players, coaches and sports leaders. The Association works at a national level covering the social, educational and sports area of federated and non-federated players. She also formed the first blind women’s football team in Buenos Aires, and since 2018 has begun to introduce football in female prisons in Argentina. Nowadays, she volunteers in two prisons. This fascinating track record in social change gained her world-wide recognition, earning the label of social transformer by The Economist magazine and chosen by the BBC as one of the 100 most influential and inspiring women in the world. Additionally, for her fight for gender and social equality, she was invited to talk about her work on inclusion at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Nowadays, she has been designated by the Organization of American States (OAS) as “Goodwill Ambassador for Gender Equity in Sports”.
Dedication to continuously improve and learn
Evelina is currently studying the Barça Universitas online program Sport Psychology for Athletes Development. We asked her what her reasons were to undertake it, as she is already a successful sports professional and a very busy lady! She replied laughing, agreeing that busy was a correct description.
Interestingly, Evelina explained how she has given a big focus to studying throughout her life. She has previously studied to become a coach, a physical trainer, taken courses in football management and sports marketing. She told us how important it is for her to constantly support her knowledge with new ideas, perspectives and tools. “I saw various Barça Universitas programs which I thought could help my personal and professional growth, which can benefit me in my current work at the club as well as for the future. It was actually one of my colleagues who recommended me to sign up for a program, he has already completed a few,” Evelina says. She additionally pointed out that what appealed to her was also the online factor: “It’s very important for me to be able to study around my schedule and from anywhere, I really liked the fact the programs are completely online.”
We can’t think or someone better to talk to about women’s football than Evelina Cabrera, who has experienced the industry as a player, a sports professional, and who is extremely involved in social sports organizations focused for women. She started off explaining that even though there have been great improvements in women’s elite football there are still many challenges and set-backs: “for example, there isn’t much accessible information, data and research specifically on female football. Other big obstacles would be due to lack of investment.” However, she pointed out that she believes it is going on the right path and especially in recent years she has noticed positive changes such as a growth in sponsors, a massive support on social media and overall, more visibility and resources. “I really do believe it has a great future”, she says. Evelina highlighted events such as Sports Tomorrow Congress make her excited, as they will provide more insights and necessary research on female athletes.
“I really do love women’s football, it’s inclusive and equitable”, Evelina says, “it opens up and challenges mindsets of what women can do. Football can also provide tools and opportunities to women based on their skills and ability instead of their gender. It’s great that clubs are giving importance and relevance to women ‘s football, it doesn’t just have an impact on the pitch but also outside of it.”
Evelina smiles, she is open-minded, perhaps Europe could be an option or perhaps return to Argentina. She says, “For me the most important factor is the people I work with and that we share the same vision, the location is secondary. I am just extremely happy to be able to work doing what I love and open up a space for more women, that’s a big personal reason for me.” We are looking forward to seeing what Evelina has in store for the sports industry.
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