Fernanda Pinilla - Chile
My name is Fernanda Pinilla. I am a soccer player and graduated in physics from the University of Chile. I finished my undergraduate degree and started a PhD in 2018, but when the option to play in Spain came ahead of the World Cup, I paused my studies - I intend to do a postgraduate in the future.
I live in Puente Alto, Santiago. I started playing soccer with my cousin at 6 years old, and I was always playing with boys until I was 13 years old. It was at the age of 13 that I joined my first women's soccer team, Mirador de Puente Alto. I have belonged to the national team since 2007, forming part of an under 14 team that traveled to Zurich to a "Home of Fifa" championship. Since then I have been in the squad, going through U17, U20 and currently the full squad. I have played for the teams Universidad Católica, Audax Italiano, Santiago Morning, Universidad de Chile, Córdoba CF (Spain) and next season I will be at Santa Teresa de Badajoz (Spain).
What has been your football journey up until now?
Some sacrifices were to miss important things, family celebrations, birthdays, trips or parties since I was very small - or changing my school, so that the training schedules did not coincide with classes. As an adult, things become even more difficult, because in Chile women's football is not paid, there are no salaries, it is not professional, so I had to find a way to study and work without stopping training. Fortunately I did private classes and classes in the university that meant I had free afternoons to train and free weekends to play. The emotional and mental burden of having to study at night, sleep little and perform in training and games has made for a few hard years.
The last sacrifice I made to be able to live on football has been to move away from my family and friends; I had to go live in Spain. Although I am fulfilling a childhood dream, leaving my family and not being able to see them has been very difficult.
What did you try to show with the photos? Was there any wider meaning with any of the photos?
I tried to show passion, reality and my teams. Most of the photos are from my team Córdoba CF in Spain. On the other hand some were taken in Murcia, during a match against Scotland, which was preparation for the World Cup in France. After the games with my teammates we used to eat pizza, share and discuss the game. This match was a defeat, but it was magical as the result united us as a team.
What are the biggest changes that are happening at this moment in women's soccer?
The social change and culture. Throughout the world, different fights are being fought to maintain or better promote women's football. It is important that we change mentalities and we hope that these mentalities are the future.
What does football mean to you? Do you have a message for the next generation of young footballers?
For me it means all my life...my day, my week, I organise my life it in relation to football...to train, to rest, to distract me. It is so important because of everything football has given me. The best experiences of my life have been on a field and with people who have given me football.
I would tell the next generation to be excited about all that women's football is experiencing today, because all this and much more awaits them - and that it is up to each one of them to do their bit to keep football growing. Do not be discouraged with the failures, much less with the dirty side of football.
What are the opportunities for women’s soccer players in Chile?
More than anything, the opportunities are for academic and sports scholarships. We do not have professional football so if you want to play and live football, you should try to leave. For that it is very good to stay in the national team!
What do you expect to change after WWC 2019?
In my country I hope we change the mentalities of some authorities that are responsible for development - and that we keep the squad at a high level in South America. I hope that development plans are carried out to promote minor leagues, promote community, regional and national championships, looking for future generations of the national team.
What does your family think of your work as a professional footballer?
I have two older brothers, a nephew and a fabulous mother and father. They are proud of me; they have always supported me and have seen how football and my dedication have nourished me not only sportingly, but especially socially and culturally.
What is one thing you always do before a game?
I do not have a plan before each game other than listening to my favourite music and dancing in the dressing room.