6 minutes

Moving the game forward 

Creemos (we believe) is a slogan that fits Ara and the Colombian national team perfectly. The women’s team’s journey combines their ambition with Ara’s belief that it is possible to go further.  

In her essay, A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf wrote “No need to hurry, no need to sparkle, no need to be anybody but oneself” and nothing more clearly and faithfully reflects this than the individual determination that has enabled a handful of Colombian women to shine while being themselves, in a male-dominated sport like football, which has traditionally put up barriers to their advancement. 

Those who have witnessed the long struggle of many unsung female heroes at close quarters can tell how hard the road has been to travel and how many women have thrown themselves heart and soul into following their dream and fulfilling their destiny: the dream of representing Colombia’s tricolour flag in a woman’s football team. 

Women’s football is a very recent phenomenon in Colombia and its story is one largely told without any formally organised league, because only in 2016 did the Colombian sporting authorities and their associated clubs agree to a professional league for women’s teams. 

Connoisseurs of the beautiful game will give them the place they deserve for reaching the quarter finals of the World Cup 2023, only seven years after the founding of the women’s professional league. A league which is beginning to learn and think for itself, almost like a child taking its first steps into the wider world.  

Supporting the development of women is the first step towards contributing to economic, social, educational and environmental development. 

Ara’s focus is on the twenty-three heroic women who made their way to the quarter finals of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, beating some of the best teams in the world, some of which have had leagues and professional players for more than 30 years. These are women who have fought tooth and nail to overcome all the obstacles in this male-dominated sport and who, by believing in themselves, their abilities and in the determination that has brought them that far, have won themselves a place in the annals of sporting history and represent the diversity of their beautiful home country. 

The twenty-three players who have been selected for the national team come from all corners of the 1,142-square-kilometre country, representing nine of Colombia’s thirty-two departments. From Lorica en Montería in the north to Jamundí in the Cauca valley and the canyons of Risaralda in the west, they all have stories of overcoming adversity, self-esteem and dreams that are the pride of Colombia’s sporting traditions.  

Catalina Pérez, who has signed by Werder Bremen in Germany for the 2023/2024 season, was born in Colombia’s capital city, Bogotá. She is the national team’s goalkeeper, but not many people know that she works in a leading bank in the financial sector and was close to retiring from professional football because of a knee injury. 

Sandra Sepúlveda is a key player for Deportivo Cali, the team from the capital of the Valle department in Colombia, and combines her élite training regimen with a master’s degree in physical education, recreation and sport, and plays alongside others, like the powerful number 10 in the squad, Leicy Santos, who today plays for Atlético Madrid in Spain, or Manuela Vanegas, a leading defender for Real Sociedad in Spain. They combine their commitments  as professional players with the dream of transforming the lives of vulnerable young people in their home districts of Córdoba and Antioquia, through charities they have built up with their families and friends, inspired by their vision for a better country, supporting more than 200 young people aged 5 to 17. 

Each of them is a powerhouse of determination and above all a will for change you could write a book about, but it would be have to be called The Power of Believing, of Working Together and Being Supported. A book that would undoubtedly tell how we can achieve all our goals when on our journey we decide not to arrive perhaps as quickly as we would if we travelled alone, but closer to our target if we travel together. 

This is why, inspired by a country that dares to dream, full of talented women looking for people to believe in them, Ara decided to be the first company to support the women’s teams at all levels through exclusive sponsorship in Colombia and decided to invite all Colombians to pull together to support them, as they represent the country’s flag at the highest levels of global sport. Because, as we have repeatedly said, just because we were the first, it doesn’t mean we want to be the only ones. “Ara is a young brand which, after only 10 years in the country, is already recognised by more than 98 % of people in Colombia. What’s more, it’s firmly convinced that supporting the development of women is the first step towards contributing to economic, social, educational and environmental development on the basis of fairness. In doing this, we work with those who share our values, which underpin our brand,” says Maite Sarasua, marketing director at Ara.

In deciding to sponsor sports teams and/or events, brands like Ara are able to associate themselves with the values and excitement of sport, but also to identify with the deeper tensions and issues they point to. Sponsorship that limits itself to celebrating the winners and ignoring the immense power of consistently committing to responding to the needs that lie behind causes such as women’s sport is a thing of the past.