Marta Vieira da Silva had to pave her own path without any role model but now she aims to change that for the next generation.
Women's sports are slowly garnering the same level of respect and popularity as men's sports, largely due to the constant efforts put forward by female superstars in their respective games. It has not been an easy road for any of them as they did not have a set-out path for them. They had to build their careers and legacies from scratch not only for themselves but also the future generations. This is what Marta Vieira da Silva has done in her illustrious career as a footballer. And according to her interview with UN Women, she is far from done. Now, she aims to become the role model in sports that she never had growing up.
Marta begins crying as she's asked about legacy in MD-1. "When I started playing I didn't have an idol, a female idol." How was she supposed to see herself when they didn't show women's football on TV? Now people stop the team and say, my daughter wants to be like you. #FIFAWWC— Steph Yang | Horrible Soccer Goose (@thrace) August 1, 2023
In her interview with The Athletic, Marta was visibly emotional when she said, "When I started playing, I didn't have an idol, a female idol." Women's football had not garnered enough popularity to be shown on television, there was no one to look up to and she solely depended on herself and her talents to build a future in a game she loved. As she said in her conversation with the UN, this was what inspired her mantra: "Believe in yourself and trust yourself."
Over the years, Marta has become well-known as the best female soccer player of all time. Her performance has garnered her six Best FIFA Women's Player awards back to back. According to UN Women, while talking about her humble beginnings, she said: "I started playing football when I was 7 or 8 years old. I'm from a very small town and at that time, no other girls played football in my town. People said football wasn't for women and my family shouldn't let me play. They said I wouldn't make it, that I wasn't good enough."
Despite so many challenges, she did not give up and kept on persevering. Today, she wants to become the figure she desperately looked for in her childhood. Her fight back against her naysayers would have been easier if she had someone to look up to. In her own words, "Today, I want to use my story to empower girls everywhere, to work towards their goal, in whatever area that may be—in sport, in life, in work."
Through her work, she seeks to inspire others as her mother did for her when she was young. Having divorced Marta's father at a young age, she was responsible for raising 4 children on her own. No matter what life put in front of her, she kept going. This was what inspired Marta to never give up even when she faced the biggest obstacles. She wanted to let young girls know they should never give up when they hear 'no' for the first time. She didn't and eventually, she was able to make the very town that initially dismissed her be extremely proud of her achievements today.
She concluded her interview with the UN by emphasizing the importance of sports and the need to invest in them, saying, "Sport changed my life completely. [It] gave me the opportunity to help my family, meet other people, see other countries and experience other cultures. Sport is a tool for empowering girls because it gives you the opportunity to do what you want and learn to respect the differences between people."