Is Venezuela the World’s Next Women’s Soccer Powerhouse?

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Venezuela is well on its way to becoming the next big thing in world fútbol and a bona fide women’s soccer powerhouse.

After making history two years ago by winning their first-ever South American title at the under-17 level, “Las Chamas” venezolanas confirmed their regional dominance and further solidified their rise to fútbol femenino prominence with a 1-0 win over Brazil in the Women’s Under-17 Sudamericano final over the weekend.

The sleeping giant is awake, and the world is watching; as if the astonishing accomplishments of these brilliant young futbolistas weren’t already enough in and of themselves, they managed to bring a truly unprecedented crowd of 45,321 spectators to the Estadio Metropolitano de Lara for the final. *CHILLS*

Get a glimpse of the magic for yourself below:

Sixteen-year-old Deyna Castellanos was the tournament’s top goalscorer en route to U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016 qualification, netting 12 with two hat-tricks over the course of seven games, including this strike to put her team ahead for good against Brazil:

But she didn’t do it alone; goalkeeper Nayluisa Cáceres kept five clean sheets and allowed only three shots to cross her goal line (all against Paraguay at different stages of the competition). Her defensive exploits were complemented by starlets like Daniuska Rodríguez, who contributed seven goals (including one hat-trick) and nine assists.

Venezuelan women’s soccer development is an ongoing project, led by Panamanian coach Kenneth Szeremeta ever since it started eight years ago. Under his guidance, this exceptional group of young women has claimed two regional titles (accumulating a 7-0 record with 27 goals for, three goals against, 3.8 goals-per-game, and five clean sheets in this most recent edition of the competition), silver at the Youth Olympic Football Games, and fourth at the U-17 Women’s World Cup.

CONMEBOL press secretary Miguel Ortiz Granada said that “these are [Venezuela’s] first international triumphs. And, similarly to the U.S., women’s soccer is advancing much quicker than men’s, generating great excitement amongst the fans.”

Venezuela will no doubt be one of the favorites in Jordan next year. It’s the team to beat at the moment, and Las Chamas don’t look likely to slow down anytime soon. Maintaining the cloud of hype around the women’s game will only help to foster greater fervor amongst fan bases, and will thus prove pivotal in next step transformations and turning this program into a world powerhouse. We couldn’t be more psyched to watch it happen.