Paola Lopez, between the present and the past
Lopez is one of Mexico’s best wingers
Her other passion is history
"The pandemic can help women’s football grow" she says
It all started in high school, when an inspiring history teacher showed her how it was possible to make sense of the present by understanding the past.
These days, Paola Lopez demonstrates the same facility as she talks about the great wars of the 20th century, the tireless struggle of feminism or the importance of sport’s social dimension.
"History is important because, over and above its facts, it consists of the stories of people. And, in general, I think the best way to understand each other is to look at how we were. What we are today is not that different from what we were years ago," she says in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com.
And that dizzying pace with which she moves between ideas is also evident on the pitch, where she continually tries her luck down the right wing in the No.25 shirt of Pachuca. That was until the COVID-19 pandemic struck and football ground to a halt the world over.
"I recently read Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century. When he analyses global economic history and inequality, he argues that the world's most equitable periods have come just after major global shocks, such as the First and Second World Wars. I think with this pandemic it can be the same. It's a sad thing, but it's having such a huge external impact that it makes us reflect on who we are."
Lopez feels this also applies to women's football. "If you think of it in pragmatic terms, as a woman you’re seeing something that had been growing come to a halt. And it's hard because after seeing the impact of the World Cup in France, we knew very good things were coming. The Liga MX Femenil was also growing in terms of audiences, fans and salaries.
"But, getting back to the above idea, COVID-19 is now making people question what it is they value. Ideally and conceptually, the pandemic is serving to provide a more level playing field for equality in all its forms. Perhaps women's football can grow because of that."
The two sides of Paola Lopez
Away from the pitch: She studied political science and worked at the National Institute for Historical Studies of Mexican Revolutions (INEHRM) until the end of 2019. She is currently studying to be a technical director at the official school of the Mexican Football Federation (FEMEXFUT). She writes for several Mexican media outlets.
On the pitch: At 26, she is one of the finest right wingers in the Liga MX Femenil. She started all nine of Pachuca’s games in the suspended 2020 Clausura and scored four goals. She played for Club Universidad (UNAM) prior to joining Pachuca and has scored 23 times in her senior career.
Love of culture
As the world attempts to navigate through the dark days of this pandemic, Paola Lopez is continuing to pursue her off-field passions. "These days I read quite a bit and also record a weekly podcast called 'Historias del llano' (Stories of the Plain), which I think represents how I am as a person. I try to see football as something more than a sport and include historical, philosophical and social aspects."
Past, present... and future? "I wouldn’t mind continuing with the historical side; that's why I keep writing and remain in touch with people from the university."
"But I’m also very committed to my football career and my technical director course. I'd like to direct and be part of a club and be able to give it a social dimension. Pachuca are one of the few teams that have a university, so they can produce players with a holistic vision encompassing intellectual and sporting aspects," she concludes.
This article is part of our new series 'Women in Football', in which we offer a different behind-the-scenes look at some of the protagonists of the women’s game. Next week we'll focus on Canadian referee Carol Anne Chenard.