Colombian soccer player Linda Caicedo has had an intense week. On Tuesday she played a friendly in Mexico with the Colombian team, on Wednesday she turned 18, on Thursday she arrived in Spain and this Friday her great dream has come true: she has signed with the women’s Real Madrid. “Linda Caicedo is already a Madridista!” The merengue club announced when welcoming her with a series of messages on her social networks. It is a young team, registered in 2020 and still under the shadow of Barcelona. However, the desire for growth and the expectations placed on Caicedo are evident.
Real Madrid is the most valuable football club in the world in financial terms, according to the magazine Forbes. But their performance in the women’s league is far from reflecting the strength that does exist in the men’s competitions. Barcelona, the classic rival of the Madrid team, is the champion of the Spanish Women’s First Division. The challenge is to dethrone the eternal rivals.
On the other hand, the signing encourages illusions about Caicedo’s upward trajectory. The soccer player had a great 2022: she was chosen as the best player in the 2022 Women’s Copa America and the best young soccer player in the world in a classification of the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS, for its acronym in English). Her pending dream, however, was to project her career abroad, something that was not possible until she reached the age of majority. Now, Real Madrid is the opportunity. Caicedo will be the first Colombian woman to land in the white club and she will join a squad that already includes two other Latin Americans, the Mexican Kenti Robles and the Brazilian Kathellen.
Caicedo arrived in Spain on Thursday, after participating with her teammates from the Colombian team in the Women’s Revelations Cup, in Monterrey (Mexico). She smiled, said that she was happy and put his signing in context: “It’s important. Not only for me, but for women’s football in the country.” She knows that her figure projects many more players who have overcome a hostile environment. Colombian soccer players have denounced in recent years the precarious working conditions they face and have maintained a long pulse with managers.
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Colombian soccer shone in 2022 when Caicedo and her teammates reached the final of the U-17 Women’s Soccer World Cup in India. The support of the Colombians remained solid despite the distance of more than 15,000 kilometers and gave visibility to the female branch of this sport. The promises for better working conditions came later: the Sports Minister, Maria Isabel Urrutia, told this newspaper that in 2023 the professional women’s soccer league was going to last 11 months. However, in February the Major Division of Colombian Soccer (Dimayor) announced that it would only be for five months.
The figure of Caicedo provokes excitement among her teammates, sports fans and Colombians in general. Carolina Jaramillo, author of Crystal ball. A history of women’s soccer in Colombia, explained a few days ago to this newspaper that the athlete attracts because she is someone young and happy who wants to “conquer the world.” “She represents a black player, from a humble class, who got ahead and is now in the elite,” she emphasized. Something similar was said by former soccer player Nicole Regnier: “She is without a doubt the most talented player ever born in Colombia.”
The athlete began playing for America de Cali in 2019. She was 14 years old and was the League champion and scorer. The following year, she moved to her backyard rival, Deportivo de Cali. There she lifted the top local trophy again in 2021. However, her greatest achievement came last year, when the U-17 women’s team became the first Colombian team to reach the World Cup final. Caicedo won the Silver Ball and the Bronze Boot. Also in the Copa America, with her as a figure, Colombia qualified for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand that is being held this year.
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