Women's team part of the Fiorentina family
Founded in 2015, on course for league title in 2017
"Having a women's team is something to be proud of"
When children reach the age of two their vocabulary starts to expand, they run around tirelessly and have no difficulty overcoming obstacles and hurdles. The same can be said of Fiorentina WFC, who were only founded in 2015 but are now on the cusp of winning the league title for the first time. Even through their inception, coach Sauro Fattori's side made history by becoming the first women's team in Italy to be part of a professional men's club – ACF Fiorentina.
"You could call us pioneers," said Fattori. "I'd like to underline that Fiorentina didn’t simply help the women's team: we really are part of Fiorentina. We're not only affiliated but part of the family, with the same purple on the shirt."
It marked a step in the right direction for the 55-year-old, who made his own Serie A debut for the club during his playing days. "It's really important for women’s football at a national level," he continued. "I hope others will follow, otherwise we'll be lonely. In Italy women's football isn't as important as other sports, but we’re gaining an audience. Having a women's team is something to be proud of. Other clubs need to take this cultural step, as it's one that can bring great rewards."
Alia Guagni, a cornerstone in defence for both Fiorentina and Italy's national team, is equally keen for other clubs to follow their lead. The 29-year-old believes that although the women's game is on the right track in her homeland, there is still room for improvement: "Italy is still a few steps behind the rest of Europe. Years ago we led the way but today we’re playing catch-up.
"We need a considerable push from the entire men's Serie A," she continued. "Fiorentina have taken a leading role in the movement but that’s not enough. By implementing new policies that involve the education system - Fiorentina have already started a promotional campaign in schools in Florence - real change can take place. Young boys and girls should delve into sport, which is pivotal in their growth. If women’s football begins at an early age, in ten years we’ll have a different perception in the country."
Dream come true
Fiorentina's women's team have already experienced one such push, and their success speaks for itself. They finished their maiden Serie A season in third place and are top of the standings in the current campaign.
"We built a strong team from day one," said Guagni, who dreams of winning the league title for the first time in her career and performing well with Italy at the upcoming European Championship this summer. "Last year we had many goals and we didn’t achieve them all, but we gained experience. The key to success is the professionalism at Fiorentina, and also every single player's will to win. We work hard every day out on the pitch and it’s all now paying off."
Her coach echoes those thoughts and cites constant improvement as another important factor: "In 2015, Fiorentina’s first season, the club entered this universe with respect in order to understand its balance. This year we want to make our mark and we’re about to reach our goals.
"We're just a few steps away from the title, and we want to win it at the Franchi on Saturday [the Stadio Comunale Artemio Franchi is the biggest football stadium in Florence and home to the men's team]. Our goal is to do the double with the league and the Italian Cup. It would be a reward for all the sacrifices and the hard work of the club, the team and all those who have worked with and for us."
Fiorentina only need a draw against Tavagnacco to seal their maiden title triumph. The match will be broadcast live on Fiorentina's Facebook page (Fiorentina Women's FC).
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