Women’s football | ‘This book is dedicated to other Martas, barefoot and dirty’

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The slide show from Graciano’s website, including pictures from his Dec 04 visit to Dois Riachos—a place of “persons of authentic and irrefutable values.”

Editor’s note

These two translations from Diego Graciano‘s biography of Marta Vieira da Silva, Você é mulher, Marta! (São Paulo: All Print Editora, 2008), 21–22, 23 (see related article, 15 Sept 08), have been provided by Buddy Hughes. The translations, from Spanish and Portuguese, respectively, are used with permission and have been authorized by Graciano, the copyright holder.

Prologue

In South America, in one of the most marginalized areas of northeast Brazil, only 100 miles or so from the tourist center of Maceió, capital of the state of Alagoas, lies an invisible town. Not only with regard to the geographical map of the region.

At various times, the inhabitants of Dois Riachos [Two Little Rivers] are left without access to something so essential as the taste or feel of water.

Despite their dramatic situation, they seem quite naturally to transform all the daily scarcities from which they suffer into human abundance, when some visitor from the outside world draws near to take an interest in them. Perhaps some sensitive traveler can help me take true measure of this emotional experience. The stress from my São Paulo background was relieved when I arrived at Dois Riachos, halfway down an abandoned route that joins Maceió with Santana do Ipanema.

In the heart of this forgotten place reside some 13,000 living bodies. They are persons of authentic and irrefutable values, human beings inadmissible in the megalopolis from whence I had departed. Dois Riachos could not change its lifestyle because that would deprive the people of their faithful virtues such as patience and confidence.

Within this gentle refuge characterized by its innocence, Marta was born.

A poor little girl, of very humble origin, owner of a dramatic life story that could only be portrayed in a book (the first of its genre about women’s soccer).

A true and actual narrative that reveals the depth of personal excellence that goes beyond the sport itself. Marta would abandon everything for her dream of playing soccer: the person most beloved, her mother, and the tradition most odious, the phantom of submission, which still makes many women feel like prisoners. In a dignified manner she challenged those who would prohibit her from developing her unique grand passion. And even to the point of risking her own dignity in face of the humiliations she received.

If it had not been for her incredible willpower, today we would think of Marta as just one more typical native daughter of Dois Riachos: passing her days playing for the adult men’s team of the CSA club. She would be a young girl dreaming of a more ambitious future that she would never achieve.

As there are no prophets who come to these parts.

Those who do come would only offer a T-shirt inscribed with the symbol of some political party, a slate of candidates and a photo of some official.

However, in due time Marta broke the mold and assumed the risk.

She deserves all of her conquests.

In an apocalyptic world of illusions and false promises, her experience should be considered a symbol for millions of girls and boys who lack the necessities of life, but who still believe in their dreams. This book is dedicated to other Martas, barefoot and dirty.

With her audacious appearance there now exists “a before” and “an after” in the most popular sport in Brazil.

Not only because her talent provoked a great impetus for the growth of women’s soccer worldwide. To indicate the degree to which women’s soccer has advanced, on the cattle ranches of five-time champion Brazil, Marta’s name will continue to be added to showcase after showcase, along with the names of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Romário, Robinho. This book was started when Brazilian Marta Vieira da Silva was in her 18th year of life, at the time when she had already been consecrated as soccer’s foremost woman idol. As Mario Zagallo defines her in this book: “She is the female Pelé.” This is her true story.

[Translation © 2008 Buddy Hughes. All rights reserved.]


The highlight reel from Marta’s club side, Umeå IK.

Preface

This is the observation of Diego Graciano: sharp.

In presenting the progression of soccer player Marta, he places a magnifying glass over a beautiful and precarious region of Brazil.

This is the outlook of Diego Graciano: prophetic.

When he initiated his biographic work, the name of Marta was beginning, timidly, to be projected.

In an move combining innocence with vision, Diego placed a crown on Marta’s head in order to take her photograph. A playful act clothed in truth.

Two years before she was chosen the best woman player in the world by FIFA, the biographer anticipated giving her the scepter.

This should be our viewpoint about Diego Graciano’s book: grateful.

The work of this Argentine youth is a declaration of love for Brazil.

With analyses refined from reality that transcend the more habitual biographical style, he gives rise to a concrete image of the little “street girl,” of the valiant woman, who made her talent into an implacable strength.

Marta shines. She shines forth for Brazilians and for the world. Symbol of struggle, of excellence, of ability.

The work Você é mulher, Marta! [You Are a Woman, Marta!] gives Dois Riachos a place in history. Within the imagery of Brazil, it adds growth to the notion that hope never perishes.

Iraci Nogueira, Professor of Literature

[Translation © 2008 Buddy Hughes. All rights reserved.]

About the Author

Diego Graciano is a freelance football journalist and author of Você é mulher, Marta! (São Paulo: All Print Editora, 2008), a biography of Marta Vieira da Silva. He lives in São Paulo.

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  1. [...] would abandon everything for her dream of playing soccer,” Graciano writes in a prologue (see translation), “the person most beloved, her mother, and the tradition most odious, the phantom of [...]

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