FC Barcelona Women’s Golden Anniversary

FC Barcelona Women’s Golden Anniversary

December 25 will mark the 50th anniversary of the first match of the Selecció Ciutat de Barcelona, the women's team that played at the Camp Nou in front of 60,000 spectators, coached by Ramallets and who were the pioneers of Barça women's football

The genesis of FC Barcelona women's football dates back to Christmas Day 1970, 50 years ago. That day, a group of pioneering and brave women who wanted to play football fulfilled their dream of playing at the Camp Nou. They couldn't do it in a Barça shirt, as would have been their wish, but that game has become, over time, the symbol of a struggle of perseverance to achieve the recognition that Barça Women has today; one of the six professional teams at the club, and one which is gaining more fans every day.

The eleven who played at the stadium on Christmas Day 1970 went by the name of Selecció Ciutat de Barcelona and wore a white shirt, blue shorts and Barça socks. The coach was the legendary goalkeeper Antonio Ramallets, a legend of the club, and the opponents were Unió Esportiva Centelles. There were about 60,000 spectators in the stands as the game was part of a charity festival organised by Ràdio Nacional to raise funds for children's hospitals, and which featured a friendly international match between Barça's first team and CSKA Sofia.

How did this historic match in Barça's history come about?

It all started in the autumn of that year thanks to Immaculada Cabecerán, an 18-year-old Catalan amateur player who wanted to seriously practice a sport that was still forbidden to women at the time. Determined to fulfill her goal, one morning in November 1970 she met with Barça president Agustí Montal at the club's institutional headquarters. That day, Immaculada confessed to the president that she was convinced that there were many girls who would like to play football. Montal replied that if Imma found enough women to form a team, Barça would support her.

An ad in the magazine

A few days later, an editor of Revista Barcelonista, aware of everything, spoke to Imma Cabecerán and convinced her that the best way to find football players was to place an ad in the magazine in search of women interested in practicing the sport. Interestingly, what had happened in 1899, when Gamper placed an ad to look for team-mates to play football, was being repeated.

The ad was published on November 17th, with Imma able to form the first team in the history of Barça women's football, made up of a group of women between 18 and 26 years old.

After a couple of self-managed workouts, Imma and her team-mates realised they needed a coach. FC Barcelona sent along Antoni Ramallets and César Rodríguez, two club legends, to coach the inexperienced girls. 

Caesar had no patience and left after a couple of days. Instead, Ramallets was in sole charge of the girls until 1972. The legendary Cat of Maracanà, fully aware that he couldn't perform miracles with so few weeks of training, needed patience in order to teach the most basic tenets of football technique.

That first match at the Camp Nou in 1970 pitted the players against a much more experienced team. For their part, the Barça women's team made up for their obvious lack of football technique with great enthusiasm. Unfortunately, as they were not yet officially recognised by the club, they couldn't wear the club colours or use the name FC Barcelona.

The pitch was small (72 x 40.3 meters), with each of the goals (which were smaller than the regulations) located just behind the semicircles of the respective areas. The duration of the match was limited to two halves of only half an hour, which greatly angered the players as they were perfectly able to withstand the regular ninety minutes.

The 17 pioneers

The 17 pioneers of FC Barcelona women's football were: Maria Antònia Mínguez, Llera, Giménez, Pilar Gazulla, Lluïsa Vilaseca, Aurora Arnau, Anna Jaques, Maite Rodríguez, Immaculada Cabecerán, Núria Llansà , Alicia Estivill, Blanca Fernández, Lolita Ortiz, Consuelo Pérez, Carme Nieto, Fina Ros and Glòria Comas.

The match ended in a goalless draw, with the win decided by penalties. Selecció Ciutat de Barcelona ended up winning 4-3, with two goals from Imma Cabecerán. That day laid the foundation stone of what would eventually become FC Barcelona Women, recognised officially by the club in 2002.

Return to the Camp Nou 

That match also paved the way for Penya Femenina Barça, as the women's team then became known, to play at Camp Nou in the final of the Pernod Cup against Espanyol (1-2) on March 28, 1971. On December 8, 1971, they met Espanyol at the stadium again (2-2), as a prelude to a friendly between the men's team and Vasas of Budapest, with 40,000 spectators in the stands. 

On January 6, 2021, the Camp Nou will once again host a women’s football match - against Espanyol, 50 years after the pioneers of Barça women's football did so. Lluís Cortés' players will make history again, as they play at the stadium for the first time in an official match and for the first time since their professionalisation, in 2015.

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