Tokyo Olympics: 5 young women footballers to watch out for
Women's football is the first big-draw event to start at the Olympics, and there are numerous stars waiting to show who they are. Here are five young players to keep an eye on throughout the Games.
The Olympics have been a platform for young talent to rise and become stars. Over the decades Olympics has given many talented women players to football, and this year it looks like it will be the same. Here are five wonder kids who you should watch out for at the women's event at the Olympics.
5. Jordyn Huitema
Club: Paris Saint-Germain (France)
International caps: 37
Jordyn Huitema started early in football, joining Chilliwack FC at as early as four years of age. The British Columbian footballer came up through the youth team at the Vancouver Whitecaps, and caught the eye of coaches at Paris Saint-Germain in 2018. At first, she started playing with the French Champions on a part-time non-contract basis but chose not to sign a full-time contract to maintain her eligibility to play college soccer. In 2019, Huitema changed her mind and opted to turn fully professional, leaving college. She signed a deal with PSG that summer and has become a key member of the squad since then.
In 2014 she played for the U14s, and within 3 years, debuted at the senior level, scoring 13 goals so far. She is one of the most exciting prospects for the team.
4. Asato Miyagawa
Club: NTV Tokyo Verdy Beleza (Japan)
International caps: 13
Asato Miyagawa has played all her football in Japan. She was a member of the Beleza youth team since 2013 and got promoted to the senior side in 2016, making almost 30 appearances since, including a goal.
Miyagawa has also played international youth football since 2014, making her way up to the senior team by 2019. A reliable defender, she is key to Japan's hopes of winning gold at home.
3. Jill Roord
Position: Midfielder / Defender
Club: VfL Wolfsburg (Germany)
Country: Netherland International caps: 62
Jill Roord comes from a sporting family - father a footballer, mother a basketball player - and grew up playing football regularly with her brothers and friends. She joined FC Twente and played for its age group sides until her senior debut at 16. Her four-year stint there brought as many trophies, after which she moved to Bayern Munich and played a pivotal role in 2 successful years. She then joined Arsenal in 2019, scoring 2 hat-tricks in her first two appearances for the club. She has now joined women's football giants VfL Wolfsburg ahead of the 2021-2022 season.
She has also been a regular in the Dutch youth and international sides since 2011 and is sure to treat us to some delightful football in Tokyo.
2. Lauren Hemp
Club: Manchester City (England)
Country: Great Britain
International caps: 6
Growing up in Norfolk, Lauren Hemp took to football early and played along with her sister Amy for Norwich City's academy and youth teams. In 2016, she joined Bristol City for her first professional contract and was a regular in the first team, scoring 9 goals over 2 years. Her big break came in the form of an offer from Manchester City ahead of the 2018-2019 season, a dream move for her at that young age.
Hemp has also been through the ranks of International age-group football, all the way from U17s in 2016. Her international debut came in October 2019 and is one of the players to watch out for during these games.
1. Barbra Banda
Club: Shanghai Shengli (China)
International caps: 4
Barbra Banda was encouraged by her father, himself a footballer, to take up the sport at a very young age. She began her professional career in Zambia before moving to Spain to join EDF Logroño in 2018. 28 appearances and 16 goals later, she was signed by Shanghai Shengli in early 2020, where she made an instant impact - winning the golden boot with 18 goals in the season, double her nearest rival.
Considered by many the future of women's football, she made her international debut at a mere 16 years of age and is now captaining her fellow Copper Queens into their first major international appearance.