Natalia Lara is the voice of women’s football in Brazil
She’s also broke ground by commentating on huge men’s matches
Natalia recently undertook an uber-challenging test
“The ball is sent into the box,” said the commentator in her inimitably impassioned tones. “Crivelari gets it at the back post. She hits it first-time, side-footed… goooooooool for Corinthians!”
Natalia Lara was doing what she does habitually last November… with an inhabitual twist: she wasn’t even watching the action she was describing to thousands.
“It was crazy,” Natalia told FIFA.com. “It was Corinthians-Taubate in the Campeonato Paulista. There was torrential rain. We lost the transmission of the game for what turned out to be 15 minutes.
“I immediately messaged our reporter Mari [Pereira] and the Corinthians press officer Vinicius [Carrilho] and said, ‘If anything important happens, please tell me!’”
“I had to advise the watching public I had lost the picture, but I tried my best to keep them interested. I spoke about Corinthians, Taubate, the championship and anything else I could. Somehow we managed to maintain our audience of 5,000 watchers.
“Suddenly my phone went – two messages. Corinthians goal. I was going to just tell them Corinthians had scored, but I wanted them to feel it so I decided to narrate the goal to them. I commentated the description of Giovanna Crivelari’s goal.
“The audience knew I was commentating it blind, so they loved it. Then Gabi Nunes scored and I did the same thing. Fortunately it came off well! It was a real test.”
Employing intuition and an encyclopedic knowledge to pass that examination are two of the attributes that have catapulted Natalia to become the voice of women’s football in Brazil – and break ground. She was the first female to narrate prestigious men’s fixtures such as the Paulistao final, the Derby d'Italia and Der Klassiker – and she’s only 27.
“I have always loved football,” said Natalia. “The boys who I played with used to call me Formiga. I’m not sure if that was because of the quality of my football though! (laughs).
“I used to love Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo ‘Fenômeno’, Ronaldinho Gaucho. I was a striker – I loved scoring goals. My big dream was to become a footballer.
“When that didn’t work out, I wanted to work in sport in some way, but you’d only see men working in these positions.
“But I believed I could make it happen, I went after it and I realised, ‘Yes, I can do this’. I’m really happy I managed it because sport involves such passion and once you work in it, you don’t want to do anything else."
“I really value giving people listening the best possible experience. It involves hours and hours and hours of preparation. Not just the matches I work on, but the whole football world. I dedicate myself to studying everything.
“I commentate the men’s Serie C matches, which I love. The fans of these clubs are exceptionally passionate. And I am the voice of women’s football, which I’m extremely passionate about. I always had a fire inside me to help women’s football grow.
“It's come on so much over the last few years. The 2019 Women’s World Cup was huge for its visibility. It really engrossed the public, the media and the interest has kept rolling.
“The 2019 Brasileiro Feminino was historic. We started showing live matches on Twitter, and other networks were showing games. It really took off on the internet. Corinthians started attracting huge crowds. I remember in the final there were queues and queues and queues at the Parque Sao Jorge to see the final.
“And from 2019 to 2020, the peak audience watching Brasileiro Feminino matches on Twitter has been four times more. The numbers have been staggering.
"The Paulista Feminino was also huge. We had four or five channels showing the final. And the Libertadores was shown. The quality of football was superb, and it was immensely competitive.
"The CBF has done a lot. Aline Pellegrino and Duda Luizelli were great appointments and are taking things to new levels. It’s got us all dreaming about the enormous potential of 2021.”
Natalia, whose infectious passion has indubitably aided women's football's popularity explosion in Brazil, has personal dreams, too.
“My dream in general is to see Brazilian football at the top once again,” she said. “It’s been a good while – 2002 – since the men’s team won the World Cup. The dream of Brazilians is to see them win that sixth world title in 2022. And I’d love to see women’s football keep growing and growing in Brazil the way it deserves to.
“My personal dream is to commentate on matches in the World Cup, Olympics, Champions League, Libertadores, Club World Cup. And to continue in 2021 being the voice of women’s football in Brazil, to try and make a difference to its success and to be a benchmark for others.”
“That was one of the most challenging blind auditions he could have chosen,” Adam Levine said of Jordan Smith taking on Chandelier by nine-time Grammy-nominated singer Sia on The Voice in 2015. The Harlan, Kentucky native’s song on the show went on to beat Hello by Adele to the number one spot on iTunes.
Having passed an indubitably more challenging blind audition, who would back against The Voice Brazil going no to realise all of her dreams?