Now, I can’t say that football is an activity I’ve ever had much of an interest in. In fact, let’s be real, I quite literally couldn’t think of anything worse than spending an evening eating stale peanuts in the pub while trying to keep out of the way of the TV in case I accidentally ruin uncle Dennis’ view of the match. That being said, the feminist in me just can’t help but be invested in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Women’s football has always been regarded as less-than when it comes to the world of sport—less interesting, less exciting, less athletic. But this year, it feels as though society is finally coming to the realisation that international women’s football is absolutely brimming with talent.
So, with the big competition due to kick off in only three days, on Thursday 20 July 2023, let’s run through five of the most impressive emerging players who’ll be featured in this year’s World Cup.
Speciality: Ruthless badass
Star sign: Leo
Everyone knows that if the USA were a star sign, they’d be a Leo. So, it feels fitting that one of their most promising players is also one. Sophia Smith is a natural spotlight seeker and doesn’t shy away from the pressure. In an interview with The Guardian, the forward stated: “I have to win. Like, it makes me sick to lose anything, card game, anything. So, when it comes to soccer, I just find a way.”
The USA is the most successful international women’s football team in the world, having won four previous Women’s World Cup titles. Smith is your quintessential American badass, she’s completely aware of her prowess on the pitch—see, look at all my impressive football jargon—and isn’t going to let any external perspectives throw her off her game.
Speciality: Iconic hair, iconic agility
Star sign: Gemini
In 2011, Jun Endo was forced to quit playing soccer outside after a nuclear accident occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Ōkuma. Later that same year, Japan won the Women’s World Cup, subsequently spurring Endo on and keeping her focused on her football career.
While Endo may’ve been considered a “rookie” in the 2019 Japan national team lineup, she’s now established herself as a solid star player.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Endo explained how the past few years have helped her mature as a player: “This time I feel I have to show more of the experience I have gained over four years. I want to be an example to the younger players.”
Speciality: Smile + secret weapon status
Star sign: Libra
Without being even the teensiest bit biased, I do think Lauren James might be one of the most exciting players at this year’s competition. The Chelsea player has been lauded, both at home and away, for her impressive form and natural instincts.
England captain and Lioness favourite Leah Williamson has described James as a “cheat code” while national team coach Sarina Wiegman has stated that James is a “big big talent.”
James has proven herself to be a composed player on the pitch, plus, her Instagram is super uplifting and a good time—my only sensible marker of a potential rising star.
Speciality: Sick nickname + effortlessly composed
Star sign: Leo
We have another Leo in the building people.19-year-old Corventina is Haiti’s emerging star player this year during the nation’s first-ever debut at the Women’s World Cup. The young player participated in the Under-20 World Cup in 2018 when she was not even 15 years old and has now signed a new contract with one of the biggest clubs in Europe, Lyon.
Haitian football has been hit with several sexual abuse scandals over the past few years—specifically, there have been a string of allegations attached to the then-president of the football federation, Yves Jean-Bart, as reported by The Guardian.
Media coverage of female football in Haiti is already incredibly low, so Corventina’s performance at the World Cup might mark a crucial moment and hopefully act as a catalyst for greater support of Haitian football.
Speciality: Fountain of youth
Star sign: Pisces
Last but not least, we have Colombian rising star Linda Caicedo. At the miniscule age of 18, Caicedo will be making her tournament debut during this year’s Women’s World Cup. Some have referred to Caicedo as quite literally the prodigal daughter, primarily because she was awarded best player of the tournament at the 2022 Copa América finals when she was only 17 years old.
While still so early on in her career, it’s evident that she might indeed be Colombia’s best shot at scoring during this year’s competition. Despite her age, Caicedo has shown little issue with playing on the big stage—a skill that’s essential for tournaments of this caliber.
So, there we have it. Whether your wardrobe is absolutely bursting with football merch and memorabilia, or you’ve only ever pretended to like the sport in order to make small talk on a first date, the 2023 Women’s World Cup is shaping up to be quite the competition. Also, remember that if you’re ever feeling out of the loop or lacklustre about football, simply carve out an hour and a half of your day to watch Bend It Like Beckham, it’ll put you right in the mood, I swear.