Dolores Silva: “The World Cup is a magical event”

May 13, 2024

Dolores Silva - FWC 2030
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Few individuals have been as significant in the history of women’s football in Portugal as Dolores Silva. A player for the national team for 15 years, Silva has 160 international caps, trailing only teammates Ana Borges and Carole Costa. Last year, she made history, captaining the national team to their first ever FIFA™ World Cup, following record-breaking qualifications to the UEFA European Women’s Championship in 2017 and 2022.

Born in Queluz, near Lisbon, Silva has plied her trade across Europe, including 7 years in Germany’s Bundesliga and a season with Spain’s Atletico Madrid. Since 2019, she has been back in Portugal, playing for Sporting Clube de Braga Feminino. In March this year, Silva was named as one of 11 Ambassadors for the bid of Morocco, Portugal and Spain to host the FIFA World Cup 2030™, and has high hopes for what the tournament can achieve for women’s football in Portugal.

Q1: Dolores, thank you for joining us. You have had such an incredible career at a club and international level, at such an exciting time for women’s football. How do you reflect on the changes you have seen in women’s football throughout your playing time?

DS: The growth of women’s football in recent years has been incredible. Off-the-pitch, we are seeing more and more investment in the women’s game, from youth level right through to the national teams. Better coaching, better facilities, and better exposure. On-the-pitch, the standards keep getting improving also. The increasing popularity of women’s football, which you can see in record-breaking attendances and TV audiences, is testament to this.

Q2: The Portugal women’s national team seems to be going from strength to strength, with the recent first ever qualification for the FIFA Women’s World Cup™. What have been the keys to this progress?

DS: I think the key has been to think of women’s football in a holistic way. There are lots of factors that combine to create success, including opportunities for young girls to play the game and receive good coaching, a domestic league that can inspire more participation, and the will and efforts of the Federation to promote women’s football and give it a space to grow. The progression in the past decade or so has been incredible, and I see no reason why it won’t continue.

Q3: How would you describe the feeling of playing in the FIFA Women’s World Cup™, and captaining your country?

DS: Growing up, this is a moment you dream of - a moment that inspires you to train every day, especially on the days it is extra hard. To be part of the first Portugal team ever to reach the tournament was an incredible moment, not just for me but for all players, our families, and everyone connected with women’s football in Portugal. There is nothing like the FIFA™ World Cup. It is a magical event that brings the world together like no other. And it will always be the highlight of my career.

Q4: What are your hopes for the future of women’s football in Portugal?

DS: Women’s football has grown so much to date, but it also has so much more growing to do. Our campaign in the build up to the Women’s World Cup, ‘The First of Many’, symbolizes our commitment to making sure that our recent achievements represent the start of the journey of women’s football, not the end. In Portugal we have approximately 200,000 registered footballers, only 15,000 of which are female. Addressing this balance and encouraging more girls, at a young age, to take up the beautiful game will be the key to our long-term success.

Q5: What do you think the impact of hosting the FIFA World Cup™ for the first time in Portugal can mean for the country, in particular women’s football?

DS: I’m really pleased to see that the development of women’s football is being considered a priority by the FIFA World Cup 2030™ bid. Even though it is a men’s event, it can and will be equally enjoyed by men and women, boys and girls. The most fundamental aspect to the growth of women’s football is creating more inspiration and more opportunity, and if we plan it correctly, the FIFA World Cup 2030™ can be a groundbreaking event for creating both.

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