Revolución femenina – the girls’ challenge for greater things

In a season were the clubs flagship team in La Liga have performed well below what was expected, there is one team at the club that have performed their best ever season – the Valencia CF Femenino. The girls went through the entire league season only losing twice. The first loss was of the undeserved kind against Levante (who they punished at Mestalla thrashing them 6-0) and a close match that ended 0-1 against Barcelona. Due to many draws at the beginning of the season, it was still (only) worth a third place, behind Barcelona and the winners Atlético. Still, the team has progressed from a mid table team into the very top of Spanish women’s football under coach Cristian Toro.

Before we get to know today’s team, we will first look back at the origins of the team. In 1998 it was a group of students at the Colegio Alemán (the German school) in Valencia who asked for a team to be formed. It would take a year before they could compete officially. They were registered under the name Deutscher Sportsverein Valencia or DSV for short and was for all intents and purposes an amateur team. The girls achieved promotion in perfect timing for when the professional league was established in Spain and were then able to recruit better players, even the discarded players from then champions Levante.

The team had several season on the brink of relegation, when they in 2009 signed an agreement with Valencia CF Fundación to make them Valencia CF Femenino. The team improved slightly but were still among the candidates for relegation. Enter Amadeo Salvo and Rufete, who saw potential in this part of the club and increased the resources available. The club signed Spanish internationals such as  Mariajo Pons, Sara Monforte and not least Maripaz Vilas. Under Cristian Toro, the team improved and closed in on the top of the table, finishing 4th in 14/15.

Building on that basis the next seasons, Toro built a strong team ahead of the 16/17 campaign, even if the international Leila Ouahabi left for Barcelona. A key addition was Chilean national team captain Cristiane «Tiane» Endler who has been an important reason the team has only let in an incredible 11 goals in 30 matches. Along with the goalkeeper, the stars of the team included defenders Ivana Andrés & Paula Nicart, the elegant midfielder Claudia Zornoza, the Argentinean Estefanía Banini (nicknamed «La Messi» and with Claudio Lopez as an idol!) and not least Mari Paz («Mapi») Vilas – with her 28 goals.

All in all, Valencia had built a team that is solid defensively, but still entertaining with true wingers and an ability to run the game from midfield confident on the ball. Just as we want any Valencia team to be. This was above all represented by the match against Levante, where the girls were welcomed to use Mestalla for the first time as their home ground. The public did not let the opportunity slip and showed up in thousands – in fact 17 of them. The match also brought the most emotional moment of the season as local girl Marta Peiro´ (19) fought in 6-0, and with tears in her eye fulfilled her dream of scoring at the Mestalla.

Women’s football is still a challenging sport in which to operate consistently in Spain. The league is not yet at the level seen in for example Britain, France or Germany, and only Barcelona & Atlético seem able to maintain a base over years. Real Madrid have until now not even had a team. Unlike their male colleagues, contracts are often year-on-year and teams are subject to a lot of change. This is very true for the Valencia team behind last season’s success. Coach Cristian Toro has left, along with stars like Endler (who made the first ever transfer for a fee in Spanish female footbal to PSG), Zornoza, Aedo, Banini, Maya and more.

Prior to all of them leaving, one of the major contributors to the team, ex president Lay Hoon Chan also left Valencia. Now, with an internal selection of coach in Jesús Óliva the team will need to be rebuilt, once again around national team players Paula Nicart, Ivana Andrés and Mari Paz Vilas, the notorious goal scorer.

It seems the Valencians have opened their hearts to this team who can hopefully continue their progress despite the upheaval. Women’s football at Valencia has come to stay and Chescandinavia will continue to follow the team closely!

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