Name: Verónica Boquete
Position: Attacking midfielder
Club: Utah Royals
For a player with such incredible skill, it might come as a surprise to hear that many of Verónica Boquete’s biggest achievements have been realised off the field.
Verónica Boquete, often known as Veró, recognised the barriers which stood in her path at a young age. At just 5 years old, when the rest of her team headed out onto the pitch, she was left on the touchline due to rules banning boys and girls from playing sport together. Eventually, a dispensation was made to allow her to play, but as the only girl in a male-dominated sport, she was often the target of cruel comments and bullying.
Rather than beating her, these challenges spurred Boquete on to success. On the pitch, she has excelled for teams across two continents. Her achievements include winning the Copa de la Reina de Futbol twice with RCD Espanyol, and the UEFA Women’s Champions League with FFC Frankfurt. A veteran of her national team, Verónica Boquete has scored a number of vital goals for Spain over the years, and has earned her place as Spain’s most celebrated female footballer.
However, despite these global footballing achievements, the injustice Vero had experienced as a child continued to burn within her. With the disparity between men’s and women’s football in mind, 2013 saw her launch a Change.org campaign to petition EA to include female players in their FIFA video games. Though not a gamer herself, she saw the platform as an opportunity to achieve greater equality. The campaign was nothing short of a success. From 2016, female footballers were added to the game. And now, aspiring footballers can play the game of FIFA as their idols, whether they’re male or female.
A firm believer in the power of football to enable social change, Verónica Boquete signed up to Juan Mata’s Common Goal initiative, and pledged 1% of her earnings the cause. Common Goal are a pledge-based charity, who support grassroots football, and football-related social projects, around the world.
In 2018, Veró Boquete was anointed with the highest of honours, and had a stadium named after her. The Estadio Veró Boquete de San Lazaro, a ground where she cheered on her team as a child, stands proud in her home city of Santiago de Compostela, bearing the name of la princesa del deporte rey. For young girls and boys across Spain who dream of playing football, but who might have been left on the touchline like 5-year-old Veró, this name acts as a beacon of hope; a reminder that hard work and natural talent can overcome any adversity.