Stefania Tarenzi: Sampdoria’s first-ever captain, and optimism about the women’s game’s growth

Date: 2nd September 2021 at 8:55am
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Being named the captain of your football team is a major honour for any footballer. It adds authority and responsibility to the player’s role, and it is the clearest expression of faith and trust that a manager can offer an individual in the team.

There are very few players who can claim to be the first-ever captain of a team though. But Stefania Tarenzi of Serie A Femminile newcomers Sampdoria Women is one of them.

Speaking during an exclusive interview with Forza Italian Football, Tarenzi explained how much of an honour it is to be named the inaugural captain of Sampdoria by the coach, Antonio Cincotta.

“I’m very honoured to be the first captain in Sampdoria’s history in Serie A,” Tarenzi told Forza Italian Football. “It makes me so proud. I’m happy that mister [coach] Antonio Cincotta gave me the opportunity to take on this wonderful responsibility, and I’ll try to make myself available to all of my teammates – especially the younger ones – if they need any help, support or advice.”

Where have Serie A newcomers Sampdoria come from?

Photograph: U.C. Sampdoria

The team were only formed on June 15, 2021, after they acquired the rights of Florentia San Gimignano in Tuscany. Florentia were a mid-table side in Serie A Femminile last season so by acquiring the club and its current status, Sampdoria have been able to avoid starting from the bottom of the football pyramid.

At 33 and having won Serie A twice in the past, the management at Sampdoria were thrilled to sign Tarenzi as the club’s first-ever captain after she had left Inter.

The two previous titles were won whilst playing for Brescia in 2013/14 and 2015/16. She scored 36 times for Brescia before spells at Sassuolo, Chievo Verona Valpo, and Inter. Tarenzi was also part of Italy’s 2019 Women’s World Cup squad.

It is this highly unusual scenario of a brand-new club that drew Tarenzi to join the Blucerchiati for the 2021/22 campaign, which could be much more open than the previous season where Juventus won every fixture they played.

“Sampdoria is a new team, so yeah it’s true that it’s a very different project to normal, and that’s why I chose to be part of this,” Tarenzi explained. “I love challenges. I’m full of motivation, we’ll try to do our best for the historic first Serie A season for Sampdoria.”

In terms of how Sampdoria will fare in their inaugural season, they couldn’t have asked for a much better start. Antonio Cincotta’s team beat newly-promoted Lazio 2-1 in Rome thanks to goals on either side of half-time from Ana Martinez and Yoreli Rincon. Tarenzi started the game as the central striker and was only substituted in injury time.

Photograph: U.C. Sampdoria

From the outside looking in, it isn’t clear what would be a success for Sampdoria this season. For Tarenzi, though, she feels the team must set out to win every single game and just see where they end up come May.

“We are a new team in Serie A, so we must respect every opponent,” Tarenzi said. “But we have to set out with the aim of winning every match. We’ll try to get as high as possible.”

How will Sampdoria’s rivals fare?

Tarenzi’s most recent team, Inter, had two difficult campaigns whilst she was at the club. Despite picking up 12 goals for the Nerazzurre, Inter could only manage a sixth-place finish in 2019/20 and eighth place last season. They’re looking to bounce back this season though with ex-Juventus coach Rita Guarino at the helm and a host of new signings.

“These last few years have been difficult at Inter, but I think it is during the difficulties that a player is able to grow,” Tarenzi said. “This year there have been some changes, the coach and some new players. I only wish them good luck for the coming season.”

Many are hoping that Juventus will be pushed much harder in the race for the Scudetto this season given they have changed their coach and many teams around them have strengthened. Tarenzi is in agreement and believes the league is getting more competitive as time goes on.

“Serie A is becoming increasingly competitive and I think that this season there will be more teams ready to compete for the title with Juventus.”

The women’s game in Italy

Photograph: U.C. Sampdoria.

It is no secret that interest in and awareness of the women’s game in Italy is starting to grow. The 2021/22 season is the first that will have a game each week televised on free-to-air Italian television. The same will be done for the following year, which is when the league will become professional. This will mean that salary caps are scrapped and the game can begin to grow.

Stefania Tarenzi is one of many players and fans who are excited about the growth of women’s football in Italy and believes the professionalisation and especially the new accessibility on television will prove to be important steps.

“I’m pleased about it,” Tarenzi said of the women’s game’s television deal that will see one Serie A Femminile game a week shown on free-to-air TV. “With this, I think we’ll increase interest around women’s football even more. Many people became passionate after the 2019 World Cup.

“I think we are taking steps forward so, in this way, the women’s football movement can only grow and give a lot more to all the passionate fans. I want to enjoy the growth of the women’s football movement in Italy, and I’m hoping it gets more and more beautiful and exciting.”

Despite having opportunities to move elsewhere, Tarenzi has spent her entire career in Italy. With the new television deal and the professional status soon to arrive, it seems her patience and faith in the Italian women’s game is, at long last, being repaid.

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