In May 2017, Beppe Marotta announced the founding of Juventus Women, and my entire world shifted.
Maybe there had been rumblings about it for months or even years beforehand — I'm not necessarily the most observant fan in the world, so that's entirely possible — but the announcement took me by complete surprise. It then took approximately two seconds for my shock to turn to elation. Juventus was doing what no other club I've supported has ever done, no matter how vocally the fans rallied for it. They were giving women a seat at the same elite table, carving out a place in their history for a new (and long overdue) chapter to begin.
As summer dragged on, news about the team started trickling in. They bought their Serie A license from recently disbanded A.S.D. Cuneo Calcio Femminile. They hired former Azzurre striker Rita Guarino to manage the team. They staked out a field at Vinovo as their home turf. And then, slowly but surely, they began revealing their signings.
When it comes to football, I'm best described as a romantic. I'm more interested in the narrative of players, teams, matches and competitions than I am in straight tactics and stats. Of course, one informs the other, and the picture is incomplete without both — but the way I've come to appreciate the beautiful game (and write about it!) is through diving deep into the story of every person involved in it. Inevitably, they become stitched into the very fabric of my heart.
So every player announcement brought a new rush of fierce, loyal love — and adrenaline-fueled research.
Juventus Women are captained by Sara Gama, a collected and stalwart defender who came to us from Brescia. In fact, a whole slew of players came from Brescia — Martina Rosucci, Barbara Bonansea and Cecilia Salvai also made their way over, and the chemistry they already established at their former team certainly helped them gel easily at Juventus. First choice keeper Laura Giuliani could make heart-stopping saves in her sleep. There's plenty of young talent in Arianna Caruso, Sofia Cantore, Aurora Galli and Benedetta Glionna. The international cabal includes Finland's own Tuija Hyyrynen in defense and Sanni Franssi in attack, midfielders Katie Zelem from England and Ingvild Isaksen from Norway, and forward Katie Rood from New Zealand (who has easily the best Twitter presence out of the whole team).
As each new face arrived for her medical, I couldn't help but feel like I was witnessing something truly remarkable come together. To watch a team at its inception is a privilege, and to watch one come together as seamlessly as this is a rarity. These women came to Juventus, whether it was from just down the road or from half the world away, because they all want the same thing: To strike out and find new ground, to build an entirely new legacy atop a historic one, and to play some damn good football.
My girlfriend and I went all in. We vowed to support them no matter what, even if they lost every match, even if they failed to score a single goal all year — just as we do with the men's team.
Then we woke up the next morning and saw that Juventus Women walked away from their first ever competitive match, the first leg of the Italian Women's Cup against Torino, with 13 goals and a clean sheet.
At the time of writing, Juventus Women are unbeaten. On Dec. 2, they faced league leaders Brescia, trounced them 4-0, and assumed their position at the top of the table. They've scored 20 (!) goals in seven league games, and conceded only two. If they continue on this trajectory they'll easily make it to the UEFA Women's Champions League next year. While we're still in the early days, Juventus Women look to be unstoppable.
It's exciting, but in a way that's difficult to describe. I've loved football for so long, and sometimes — foolishly — I think I've felt everything there is to feel. Of course, I'm continually proven wrong, but never more so than I was when I watched Juventus Women for the first time. Watching these incredible women fight for glory in black and white is breathtaking. Seeing people who look like me playing for the Juventus crest over their hearts makes me feel a whole host of emotions I'm not used to experiencing in football. When I watch them play, I feel validated, I feel represented, I feel empowered, I feel seen.
Juventus have my whole heart, always will, but Juventus Women have deepened my connection to the club in a way I didn't know was possible.
If you're interested in watching Juventus Women's inaugural season, you're in luck! Matches are streamed live on Juventus Pass, and all past matches are available for repeat viewing. The lack of airtime for women's football is a travesty, and while I'd much rather be able to catch Serie A Women on television as easily as I can with men's football, I'm grateful that there's at least a legal way to watch matches in live time.
Where else can you go to get to know the ladies in black and white? Glad you asked! You can follow their official Twitter for news and live match updates. Juventus have also started a series on their YouTube channel called #HimAndHer, where a men's team player and a women's team player interview one another. So far, Federico Bernardeschi has gone head-to-head with utility player Lisa Boattin, and veteran striker Simona Sodini has traded viewpoints with Giorgio Chiellini (and charmed the heck out of me in the process). In my heart of hearts, this is only the beginning of content that brings both Juventus teams together. It's a great start, but I want to see more. (And if the men would show up to support the women's games as the women have been doing for them, that would be swell, too.)
I can't recommend watching them enough. Not only is their football dynamic and thrilling, these women bleed the same black and white that our men do. The same irrepressible fino alla fine spirit is present in every minute of every match they play. We're all part of the same Bianconeri family, and my hope is that in time, Juventus Women will receive the same level of fanatic support that the men's team enjoys.
And seriously, if this video doesn't get you hyped, I don't know what will.