Jujugol, Brazil’s phenom-pioneer

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  • Jujugol’s talent made Rio de Janeiro allow girls to compete in boys’ leagues
  • She receives video messages from Cristiane, Marta, Thiago Silva and Zico
  • The ten-year-old trained with Brazil’s France 2019-bound squad

Pioneers have hardly been scarce in women’s football. The game will forever be indebted to, among innumerable others, Nettie Honeyball, Florence Dixie, Alice Milliat, Lotte Specht, Eleanor Roosevelt, Brajaranjan Ray, Malfrid Kuvas, Pat Gregory, Hannelore Ratzeburg, Jim Selby, Sif Kalvo and, more recently, Megan Rapinoe.

Who could have imagined that ground-breaking bracket of activists, pro footballers and politicians would come to comprise a seven-year-old schoolgirl?

Rio de Janeiro, arguably the mother of hubs for kids playing football, had no official competitions for girls in 2017. They were prohibited from participating in boys’ leagues.

That was until Julia Rosado de Souza got the powers that be to rewrite their laws. Or, specifically, her breathtaking ability did.

“I believe I was born loving football, but I started playing when I was four years old,” Jujugol cheerily told FIFA.com. “

Still, that didn’t stop Julia receiving Barbies as gifts.

“Because I was a girl, people thought I had to receive dolls for my birthday,” she said. “It’s not that I don’t like dolls, but they’re not what I’m really into, so I delicately took the heads off them and used them to play football.”

And play football is something Jujugol did so extraordinarily that, after captivated crowds began turning up to watch her play and a public clamour erupted to see her perform competitively, Rio’s futsal federation reneged and the Teresopolis native became the first lass to play in the lads’ leagues – a seven-year-old at under-9 level, no less.

“I was really, really happy,” Julia said. “Because the federation didn’t just open the door for me, but for other girls too.”

That wasn’t the end of Jujugol’s battle.

“It was really, really difficult to get anybody to pass the ball to me,” she explained. “They thought that because I was a girl, I couldn’t play football.

“But little by little, I showed them that I liked football, that I could play football, that I had talent, and that sport is for everyone. Through dedication and training really hard to always be better than the day before, they started wanting me on their team.”

Jujugol’s arsenal is frightening. She hip-swivels like Marta, nutmegs like Ronaldinho, boasts the strength, fearlessness and movement of Hegerberg, the Romario toe-pokes and a thunderous, Rivelino-esque left foot.

She’s already swapped Barcelona’s youth academy in Brazil for Paris Saint-Germain’s, sizzled in youth tournaments across the globe, and been named an ‘Athlete of Rio de Janeiro’.

She trained with Cristiane, Formiga, Marta and the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™-bound Brazil squad. She’s practised with Amandinha and her country’s senior futsal squad. She's regularly on TV shows. She receives birthday calls and video messages from Zico, Marta, Thiago Silva and Cristiane. Her 78,000-plus Instagram followers see pictures of her with Ronaldinho, Pia Sundhage, Kaka, Milene Domingues, Fred, Jorginho and Robinho, among others.

“I’ve loved meeting all the players, because they all treat me with such affection and attention,” Jujugol said. “But if we’re talking about positions, I relate a lot to Andressa Alves and Cristiane, because they’re forwards and left-footers like me.

“They’ve all given me a lot of great advice. One that really stuck with me was to never give up on my dreams, and to enjoy every training session, every game in order to evolve more and more.

“My dream is to become a great footballer and to grow – not to grow alone, but to grow together with women’s football.”

Uber-abilitied. Admirably avant-garde. It’s hard to believe this shimmering Carioca jewel is only ten years old, right?

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