Dec 4th, 2018, 09:00 AM

A Woman Will Lift Her Ballon d’Or for the First Time

By Camille Davis
Image Credit: Flickr/AgênciaBrasilFotografias
The Ballon d’Or has been around since 1956, but women are seeing their first award in 2018.

Playing or watching, football excited me. I was born to love the game.

I watched the third ever Women’s World Cup final match live at the Rose Bowl in my hometown of Pasadena, California on July 10, 1999.

With the sun bearing down on me as I sat in over 100 degrees, I got five shades darker; but whether team USA would win or lose, I loved every minute of the game.

The stadium, filled with young girls like me, admirers of the United States women’s team. Screaming, sweating, yelling, and crying, as if we were playing the game with the team; only we were in the stands.

The level of intensity permeated throughout the game, so much so that the deciding factor for the World Cup title fell to penalties.

During the penalty kicks, I remember Briana Scurry blocking one shot and I went crazy. After that, I only remember Brandi Chastain taking the final penalty. She sealed the deal for the team in the fifth and final penalty kick. Her iconic photo appeared everywhere as the United States took the 1999 Women’s World Cup title.

I could not believe I had witnessed United States Women’s football history. I saw Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, and Briana Scurry live and in person lift the Women’s World Cup trophy.

I began playing football in 1995, only four years before this World Cup final. Though, just as much as I love football now, I loved it then. Sadly, at age nine, I was unable to fully understand the restrictions that had been placed on women’s football for it to even reach the celebrated World Cup match in 1999.


Women have been playing organized football for several centuries. There were organized games played as far back as the First World War, and even before this. The BBC noted that the first ever women’s international match, held between an English club team and visiting French team, had been masked over for centuries.

Organizations like the Football Association enacted several barriers that prohibited women from playing in spaces that attracted any sort of viewership.

As a result, in 1921, the Football Association banned women from playing on football pitches that had spectator facilities. According to the BBC, the association at that time said “The game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged.”

50 years later in 1971, the Football Association lifted the ban they had authorized in 1921. Since this moment, women’s football began to make headway. 

Image Credit: Flicker/RealMadrid


Opportunities beyond club and university football in the United States, though still limited during my youth, opened up. In 2013, the first-ever National Women’s Soccer League was established in the United States. The once seen stigma tied to girls and women playing football began to slowly diminish.

Although women have been recognized for their individual talents since 2001 via the FIFA Player of the Year awards, now turned to the FIFA Best Football player in 2016, women are only now receiving a Ballon d’Or for the first time this year.

France Football will announce the inaugural women's Ballon d’Or winner on Monday, December 3.

The Ballon d’Or has been around since 1956 and is arguably the most prestigious individual award given to a player. It is representation that a player is the best during a given year. Iconic footballers on the men’s side have been receiving this award in addition to the FIFA Player of the Year award for years, many of which will always remain revered household names. So, it is nice to see women will finally receive the same award and recognition.

Do not get me wrong, I adore both men and women’s football, but a woman finally winning her Ballon d’Or trophy is an incredible feeling.


According to Sky Sports, France Football’s editor-in-chief, Pascal Ferre said "Women's soccer is a booming discipline that deserves the same respect as men's soccer. It's coming to maturity and growing bigger. More than 760m TV viewers watched games at the last women's World Cup in 2015. This did not happen by chance."

Ferre is right. The widespread attention the women received in the 2015 Women’s World Cup did not happen by chance. Women have been working harder than ever on and off the pitch, for the attention they are now being honored for. The contributions women have made and still make to football on and off the pitch should never go unrecognized.

Women’s football has been thriving for years. Nevertheless, the recognition of Ferre’s statement is still important because it does show that there has been a level of attentiveness gained on the women’s side.

Women footballers possess many of the same talents and skills, a paralleled determination for the game, and unmatched passion on and off the pitch.

Image Credit: Ailura/Sport 2013

Despite historical marginalization, it is an exciting time and players are thrilled. ESPN quotes current French national and Lyon footballer, Wendie Renard on her remarks "The birth of the Ballon d'Or is a step further in the evolution of our sport, which is progressing well. It's a step forward. Women's football is progressing, and the inequalities are being reduced even if there is still progress to be made.”

I always dreamt of seeing a woman hold this trophy because it is a representation of the grit, determination, and leadership a player puts in on and off the pitch. It is also symbolic of progress as Wendie said. It is an opportunity for the advancement of women’s football and to garner a wider viewership.

Growing up as a young girl, my football idols were only from my own country. Now young girls are exposed to so much more talent in women’s football, and it's wonderful. A young girl might be from the United States yet will be able to idolize a dynamic defender from France like Wendie Renard. Or a fan from Argentina will favor the style of play of the clever Japanese midfielder, Saki Kumagai. Not only will the inaugural woman Ballon d’Or winner be admired, but all of her competing colleagues will have impacts on young girls.

More women footballers will become household names alongside famous and well-known male footballers simply because of the reputation the Ballon d'Or brings. It is exciting to know that young girls will venerate a woman Ballon d’Or winner and aspire to win her own prestigious Ballon d’Or award one day.

Below is the list of the 15 nominees for this year's women’s Ballon d’Or sourced from L'équipe.

Les 15 nommées au Ballon d'Or féminin France Football - Foot - Ballon d'Or 2018