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Campaign to name Málaga street after Spain's first-known female footballer
Tuesday, November 16, 2021 @ 3:04 PM

MÁLAGA residents have signed a petition on for a street to be named after one of Spain's earliest female football players, whom they describe as a 'pioneer'.

Ana Carmona Ruíz, known to friends and family as 'Nita', was born in May 1908 in the Costa del Sol city's Capuchinos neighbourhood, and her life found a new focus when she saw a group of British Naval officers playing soccer in the port, writes petition author Simona Frabotta.

According to the petition this photo of Ana Carmona Ruíz comes from, ‘Nita’ would never have dared dress like this publicly except during a match when pretending to be a man. This picture shows her in ‘fancy dress’ at a carnival, wearing the same gear she donned on the pitch

Curiosity turned to passion and, several years later, she started playing for her local team – Sporting Club de Málaga – but in the early 20th century, women were completely forbidden from football, especially being on a men's team.

'Nita' had to dress up as a boy, cutting her hair short and 'bandaging her breasts to hide them', the petition text says.

But even then, she did not look 'manly enough' to hide her gender for more than a few matches, and when she was found out, suffered constant insults and physical attacks, and was arrested and charged with 'public order disturbance'.

To protect her, Nita's family sent her to live with relatives in the nearby town of Vélez-Málaga, but her ordeal did not put her off – once settled in, she started to play for her new home team, Vélez CF.

There, everyone addressed each other by their nicknames, so she became known as 'Veleta' and did not have to deal with the awkwardness of creating a new identity.

Although Nita got away with it this time, her life and footballing career were cut tragically short; aged 32, in 1940, she caught what was then known as 'green lice fever', and did not survive.

She was buried wearing her Sporting Club de Málaga shirt, at the city's San Rafael cemetery, and crowds of former team mates from both the teams she played for and who had known about and kept her secret attended the funeral.

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