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Remembering '99: Sissi

I have been so blessed with the love, passion and talent for the beautiful game of futebol or as the American say: soccer! This game is in my blood and deep into the core of who I am. I barely remember a time in my life where futebol was not a part of my everyday routine. My Father really wanted my brother to play the beautiful game but he couldn’t kick a ball across a room let alone across a field! I was discouraged by my family and told that this game is for boys not girls and I need to stop. Because I did not have a ball I would use my dolls heads as a ball or anything round and practice behind my family’s back. When my parents realized that my love for the game would not go away and my brother couldn’t play they decided to support me, never knowing how far the love for this game would take me.

My futebol journey has enriched my life in ways I could have never imagined! I have voyaged to far away lands and played against the best of the best. My career had me sharing one room with 12 other teammates huddled under one blanket because we didn’t have the money to pay for heat to the ability to support myself and purchase housing for my family members in Brazil and everywhere in between. I have met important Ambassadors and Heads of State as well as the little six-year-old fans screaming my name during WUSA games. I have played in two Olympic Games and three World Cups as well as a wonderful career with the Brazilian National Team, the WUSA CyberRays, the WPSL Storm and now with FC Gold Pride. I cherish all the significant memories from large to small and I am honored to play the game I love!

Several pertinent memories stand out in my mind. The 1999 World Cup is one of those memories. It was a magical time for women’s sport in general. 90,000 fans came to watch the final in Pasadena and thousands more watched the game on their TV at home. Although I did not play in the final, the game Brazil played against Nigeria was just as significant for me. I played my heart out in a game that was in a deadlocked tie for a good portion of the match. The game proceeded to overtime. This was a tough game against a great Nigeria team. During overtime I scored the Golden Goal that took our team to the Semi Finals. That game changed our lives as that was the first time the Women’s National Team from Brazil made the semis in a World Cup. The nation stood up and took notice and began to give women’s soccer the respect it deserved.

Personally, the 1999 World Cup in general helped launch my career into the spotlight. People recognized me and asked for autographs! This was so exciting! The fans had my name and number painted on their faces and would chant my name! Although I didn’t understand English I knew this was SPECIAL! My performance in this World Cup awarded me with the Golden Boot for the leading scorer tied with Sun Wen of China and the Silver Ball for second best player in the World Cup! What an honor! The trophies stand tall in my family room and I can’t wait for my kids to get old enough to ask “Mommy, what is that trophy for?” With pride, joy and honor I will explain it to them!

Sissi is a player/coach for the FC Gold Pride.