Throughout our coverage of AS Roma's inaugural season in Serie A Femminile, a common thread appeared; the somewhat sporadic growth of the women's game in Italy. While most of the traditional powerhouse clubs have now ventured into women's calcio, the league isn't yet on par with the elite women's leagues in Europe; there simply isn't enough talent in the league yet, and what's there is concentrated in the hands of three or four clubs. And with the players themselves not yet considered (or compensated) like full professionals, Italy remains a step behind, both in terms of talent development and simple marketing.
But, there is one sure fire way to solve that second problem: a strong showing at the World Cup. If we use the United States as an example, strong performances, particularly when they won in 1999 and 2005, made household names out of players like Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd, among others. And while this still hasn't cured all that ails women's football in America (or elsewhere), it nonetheless made stars out of several players, who in turn have been able to use their newfound status to bring these issues to light.
Late last week we highlighted several Italian players who could make a name for themselves this summer in France, players who could not only bring home glory for their country but could advance the cause of women's calcio as a whole, potentially following the example of those American trailblazers.
And it all starts now. If Italy have any chance at making waves this summer, they have no choice but to take points off group favorites Australia; no small feat when you consider the presence of Samantha Kerr, the NWSLs all-time leading scorer at all of 25-years-old. Led by Kerr, the Aussies are the 6th ranked squad in the world and represent a stiff test of the Azzurre as they kick off their first World Cup since 1999.
Australia vs. Italy
Kickoff: 7 am EDT/13:00 CDT
Venue: Stade du Hainaut, Valenciennes
Streaming: Fubo TV