“It will be easy to score today – you have a girl in goal,” they said with a laugh.
Nicole was only ten years old. New in football. New in the chauvinistic undercurrents of a small town in Brazil in the early 2010s.
“The throats really hurt at first,” continued Taió, a calming community in Santa Catarina. “But my desire to quit was not the same as my desire to show them otherwise and to prove that girls can save gunshots from boys.”
Nicole accidentally came to football through a boy: her twin brother.
“I started playing football when I was nine,” she said. “My father invited my brother to soccer training. Because we did everything together, I went with him so that he didn’t have to go alone.
“Everyone always wants to dribble and score goals, but I thought the goalkeepers’ training exercises were the ultimate! I then told my father that I wanted to play in goal and that was it. I would really like to see Julio Cesar and Manuel Neuer.
“There were no women’s teams in Taió, so I started playing for the boys’ team. Soon I played for them in tournaments, and then I heard the mockery.”
Four Horsewomen do Santos ⚪️⚫️ pic.twitter.com/6sqs89joEf— Sereias da Vila (@Sereias_daVila) November 4, 2019
Nobody is mocking Nicole now. At the age of 17, she became a professional with the Santos superpower and is now assigned daily to save training shots from Laryh and the legendary Cristiane. She attended the 2016 FIFA U-17 World Cup Jordan ™ and, at 18, was the youngest member of the Brazilian squad for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France ™.
She is one of only two Brazilian goalkeepers to have global glove sponsorship. And she remained four clean sheets in four games, led by an exceptional parade by Jessica Sanchez from Paraguay when A Seleção entered the second leg of the South American U-20 Women’s Championship, for which she, Colombia, Uruguay, and Venezuela will fight two Tickets to Costa Rica / Panama 2020.
“It was a perfect campaign,” said the 19-year-old. “We got 12 points, scored a lot of goals and didn’t concede.”
“It was really important for the trust of the squad. We are very confident that we will qualify for the world final.
“And we have everything to win it. A great team, great progress in training, a great coaching team. In my head, we can go really far.”
And after Nicole warmed up the benches as a minor player at two FIFA tournaments, she is now the first choice for the Brazilian U-20 players. She rates Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Alisson and Christiane Endler as the best goalkeepers in the sport.
Americanas pq estão chorando? 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/NfzW9mMAn7— Hary (@haryboull) December 12, 2019
“The two world championships were both incredible experiences,” she said. “They were both very important in my career. You have matured me very much.
“It’s wonderful to be at a World Cup, but playing at one would be different. I would feel fulfilled. I think for every athlete, playing at a World Cup is the ultimate dream.
“I am very, very excited about the prospect of doing this. So far this year has been really good for me, so I really hope that I will get there well and then give a positive report about myself.”
The year 2020 began for the humble youngsters with the Brazilian internationals Tayla and Cristiane as well as the reigning player of the year Laryh of the Campeonato Brasileiro fans, who entered through the goals of Santos.
“I was a little nervous at first,” said Nicole. “It was athletes that I saw on TV that won so much, that was a benchmark for me, and now I’m training next door. But everyone was very nice and it’s great for my growth.
“My friends at home cannot believe that I can train with Cristiane. She is very warm, she speaks to everyone.”
The Taió natives are also impressed by Nicole’s success.
“Because it’s really small, everyone knows everyone,” she said. “People are really happy that someone could come from a small town to do the things I did.
“Whenever I go there, everyone comes to congratulate me. I am very pleased. They are all very proud of me. “
Can you imagine the pride of these over 18,000 residents when Nicole’s hands hold them on the world map later this year?