FC Barcelona join the many others in celebrating International Women's Day. The various levels of women's football teams at Barça have united to celebrate this occasion.
Amongst many of FC Barcelona's impressive feats, their belief and continued investment in women's football makes them stand out from the crowd. On this day, Barça want to highlight and give a platform to all the women at the club. The presence of women across all categories at FC Barcelona is a shining example to the future, which has seen the women's game take huge steps forward, but still has a long way to go.
In the professional game, Barça have continuously backed the women's game. Thanks to that, FC Barcelona Femenino are one of the best Spanish teams around and have assembled an incredible squad. And whilst that deserves respect, Barça continue to break new ground when it comes women's football. Just this past summer, they became the first club to host a shared preseason tour between the male and female sides in the United States. The club intends to make this a regular occurance.
More than just in professional football, Barça also have female teams in other sports too. They have nine teams which have female representatives and they are: football, basketball, volleyball, field hockey, ice hockey, rugby, athletic, ice skating and artistic ice skating. Whilst they might not be professional yet, and they are referred to as 'amateur', the teams compete at an elite level and have been involved in international championships.
793 sport stars
Barcelona have a total of 793 women stars across all their disciplines. 91 of them are footballers while the rest are technically considered amateurs. Women also represent 26% of the total club members, a figure which continues to rise. That means from a total of 142,323 club members, 37,863 are women.
In fact, you need to go back to 1913 to find the first female club member. That was Edelmira Calveto who broke new ground as at the time membership was only available to men. Since then the number has continued to increase. If we talk about staff at Barça, there are 244 female employees (44% of the total).
Barcelona remain an example of how important it is to normalise women's place in sport. Barça will continue to lead the fight in order to increase the representation of women which, unfortunately, continues to be overshadowed by men.
Despite female sport stars being very common nowadays, the difference between male and female stars is still very far apart in other areas. In Spain there's still a long way before equality exists in football, something which other countries are beginning to change.
Although there's still a long way to go, the Liga Iberdrola is world class. Unfortunately you can't compare the Spanish competition with the one seen in Germany or the professionalism shown in the United States. There's an abysmal difference between the clubs which invest in their female sides such as Barça, Atletico Madrid and Athletic Club, and those who don't. It's true that some teams have begun to follow the lead, such as Espanyol, Betis, Sevilla and Levante, which could make the league more competitive. Right now FC Barcelona and Atletico are way ahead of the rest.
The road for women's sport to be at the level of the man's game still has a long way to go. However, FC Barcelona have been - and will continue to be - an example when it comes to investing in a sector which continues to grow and has a fantastic future.