Spring is on its way. And you know what that means: the Coppa is coming. For the uninitiated, the Coppa Pavone is the EUI’s annual five-a-side tournament, which takes place in early June at Villa Schifanoia. Teams can be of any size, but there must always be at least one woman on the pitch. The Coppa Pavone Femminile, which runs alongside, is women only. As a result, when the unofficial transfer window opens, ladies who know how to handle a ball are in high demand.
Many will be familiar with the desire to play football, accompanied by a nervousness for not knowing how. That’s why, after last year’s Coppa catalysed unprecedented levels of enthusiasm for playing football among non-football playing ladies, second year PhD researcher Katy Morris decided to create a forum for ladies to learn.
‘The annals will record that Ladies Hour was created in October 2016,’she told EUI Life, ‘But in truth, the germ of an idea was born back in January 2016 when I declared to some regulars of Tuesday and Friday casual football that I wanted to play too. “Oh great!”, they said. Then there was a short pause, “How good are you?”’
To get the ball rolling, Katy enlisted three non-threatening capi, who take turns running the Friday evening sessions. ‘Ladies Hour is open to all women who want to become better players. No previous experience required!’ said Sam Schmid, one of the coaches. ‘The goal is simply for every player to spend more time on the ball and improve their technique one session at a time,’ added Joe Ganderson. ‘The only thing I chastise the players for is apologising when making a mistake, because learning how to correct them is how we keep improving together.’
Alongside building confidence and basic skills, there is always time for a little philosophy on the calcetto. ‘Lucien Favre once said, ‘If you don’t have the ball, it’s hard to play football.’ I would go even further and say it is impossible,’ said capo number three Julian Limberg. ‘I have been impressed by the calm and self-confident style of play the women have developed. To refer to Lucien Favre’s quote again, this is something you only learn when you actually have the ball. Luckily, Ladies Hour creates perfect conditions for this.’
Yet for Mad Cows player Adrienne De Ruiter, one of the best aspects of Ladies Hour is the mixture of talent. ‘There are different people and coaches each week, and so you learn new things from them. Some are defensive, others not,’ she said. ‘You also get to mix with people from across the EUI, which is really nice.’
The weekly practices offer ladies a relaxed forum to learn a few skills and improve their confidence on the pitch. As the days get longer, Katy is hoping for a bigger and better Coppa Pavone Femminile in June. ‘Hopefully it will be more of a tournament with at least 6, and maybe even 8 teams,’ she said. Meanwhile, capo Sam is confident the women will hold their own in the mixed event. ‘As far as we are concerned, the Coppa can start now,’ Sam added. ‘Beware of the ladies from Ladies’ Hour!’
Ladies Hour takes place on the calcetto by Villa Schifanoia, from 5-6pm each Friday.