Football is a practice that is embedded in Mexican and Latin American society, to the point that it is a fundamental part and one of the pillars of the continent’s culture. Soccer, like many other sports, has had a love affair with film and television over the years. The rise and fall of idols or the most important sporting feats have not gone unnoticed by fiction or documentary to the delight of fans of this sport. However, despite this soccer idyll with the audiovisual industry, there are two related words that have gone unnoticed and do not have enough space on screens: soccer and women. To fill this void, arise The Bravas F.C.the most recent HBO Max series in Mexico, a production that seeks to reverse machismo and stereotypes in women’s soccer (known as women’s in Mexico).
The series, whose first season is already available on the platform, presents Roberto Casas, played by Mauricio Ochman, a cocky internationally acclaimed soccer player, but branded a traitor and hated in Mexico for having preferred to represent the Spanish team. After suffering a heart attack, his career abruptly ends. Penniless and with the Treasury following in his footsteps, he decides to return to Playa Ángel, the town where he was born, to become the coach of the local women’s team, Las Bravas. There, life prepares unexpected situations for him, the kind that change the rhythm of a game, for him and for those directed by him.
Ana Valeria Becerril and Esmeralda Soto are part of the cast that plays Las Bravas. At the beginning, the series shows the macho attitude of Casas and a statement he makes, as a mirror of the feelings of some sectors of society regarding women’s soccer: “Women’s soccer is neither soccer, nor is it female. It can be said louder, but not more clearly: the woman in the kitchen”.
“Roberto Casas comes to be the representation of that macho society with retrograde, old thoughts and that part of supporting the masculine and that of male players only,” Ochmann told Efe at a press conference with Mexican media.
Becerril tells EL PAÍS, through a video call, that being part of this project was exciting, because she was able to combine soccer and acting, two passions she has had since she was little. The first memory of her with soccer dates back to her 10 years, when in her elementary school they opened the first women’s team. She still remembers the trips she used to take with her classmates in a van with one of her moms taking them from one side of the city to the other to play.
In The Bravas F.C. Becerril plays Claudia, the team’s goalkeeper, a role for which she was assigned a specific coach. As part of the preparation, according to her account, the cast began training six weeks before filming with the Dragonas, a team from the Women’s Major League. “The training sessions were very rigorous. We had to choreograph and train each of the plays with the other girls who were opponents, all players from the Women’s Major League. The truth is that they had a lot of patience with us, ”she says, smiling as she recalls the also actress of April’s daughters.
The women’s soccer series is the first project of actress and comedian Esmeralda Soto, 22, who has become popular on social networks for her humorous content that vindicates feminism and parodies macho attitudes. She admits that before participating in The Bravas F.C. he did not like football because he believed, due to a “social convention”, that it was something exclusively male. However, this conception has changed and now, even, vindicates the “coarse” and “angry” spirit (who easily gets annoyed) of Tania, her character, as well as her teammates on screen.
“Women have had a very passive role on TV and in the movies and the truth is that I do like to see Las Bravas angry. I think that men are allowed these emotions that are primary, it is not frowned upon for them to get angry. There is a shock when we women express this anger, because they immediately say that ‘they must be in their day’. I like to see this big woman [Tania] dominating the court, that it is territorial, I like it because it breaks with this canon of the princess woman, ”Soto tells EL PAÍS through a video call.
The focus of the series is soccer, but it is not indifferent to subplots such as the importance of sisterhood, gender roles, discrimination, toxic relationships that are portrayed in a balance between comedy, drama, parody and also being controversial. Becerril believes that comedy is a “very powerful” weapon to address sensitive issues, especially because he considers that people are culturally in Mexico and Latin America, “even by laughing at our misfortunes, we make everything more bearable,” he says and adds that “we got into something as cultural as soccer and apart from that they are women playing soccer. The same comments that criticize the women are the ones that criticize the series. And yes we have received criticism, but despite that The Braves It’s getting a very, very good reception. It is a very healthy way to start putting these issues on the table”.
The productions on women’s soccer in Mexico and Latin America can be counted on the fingers of one’s hands, it is for this reason that Soto would like the series to break away from the soccer genre and even, why not, from sports so as not to differentiate between feminine and masculine. “We have to break with the belief of Roberto Casas. I hope it helps to see women as people, to break the objectification and see her as a subject who feels, I mean, we all lack a lot, but here we go, it’s already been done The Braves and it is something”, he concludes.
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