|Colombia's Women's Team: On their way to the Olympics and the World Cup, in case you didn't notice. (Photo: El Tiempo)|
The women qualified by finishing second, after Brazil, in the Copa America, played in Ecuador. At the same time, they also qualified for the Olympics and Panamerican Games.
This is the second time the Colombia women have qualified, and in at least one sense it's a greater achievement than the men's qualifying, since there are places for far fewer teams (but fewer nations field women's teams). Colombia may stand a better chance at winning the women's cup, since the field appears more open than on the men's side, where a few elite teams dominate. In women's international soccer Brazil and Germany also do well, but Norway, Japan and the United States have all won women's cups, and even China and Canada have placed high.
A big boost for Colombian and Latin American women's soccer would be the creation of professional leagues. Women's leagues do exist in Europe, and one is struggling to survive in the U.S., but they receive minimal attention.
While a few Colombian women athletes have become heroines, it's perhaps a sad commentary that the greatest attention women athletes have received recently was for the supposedly suggestive colors of the women's cycling team's uniform.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours