Marta Vieira visiting PUMA City in NYC
|With World Cup fever in full swing, there's no way we weren't going to jump at the opportunity to talk with Brazilian soccer great Marta Vieira da Silva—yes, four-time FIFA Women's World Player of the Year and top scorer in the 2007 Women's World Cup—at the PUMA City Social Club in South Street Seaport in Manhattan.
We wanted her best tips for women who play soccer. And what we got, with the help of her translator, were strategies that can raise your game on the field and off. Her tips for staying on top:
Leave your issues off the field. Soccer isn't just about how strong you are or how fast you can run. You have to really have your head in the game to be the best on the field. "When you go into the game, nothing before the game matters," says Marta.
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Communicate. With 11 players from each team on the field, this is no place for a one-man show. You really have to work with your teammates to get a play right, to call out who's got the ball when it's on the fly, or to pass the ball off when you're being charged by the opposite team. Says Marta, "Soccer has influenced me in my communication and respect for people." You can be sure that the world's leading female soccer player wouldn't have received her current title without a little help from her friends, so don't be afraid to make yourself known out there! Just as important: Listen.
Keep your confidence, especially when the game changes. "It's important that you are mentally and psychologically in tune with yourself because [your mentality] can change even just five minutes into the game—at any time really." Above all, Marta says, your A-game comes from believing in yourself. "You have to be really determined and have really high self-esteem and confidence." Because really, if you don't believe in yourself, how will your teammates?
Push hard, rest smart. "What matters to me is the fact that I'm going to have to be the first one at the ball," says Marta. "I give 100% of myself to the game and to my training. I'm very determined and really eager to always be great at what I do. I've always been motivated to go further and further and just accomplish more and more." But knowing your limits is as important as pushing them. If you're in a game and start to tire, don't be afraid to ask your coach for a break—that's what subs are for. You won't be much good to your team if you're lagging behind the action. Sometimes doing your best is knowing when to rest.
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Know that getting over it is part of the game. "Obviously the motivation is to win," Marta says, "so when that doesn't happen, you really have to look forward and keep motivated to try the next time and just keep at it because it's part of the game."
Lean on your fans. "I love soccer," says Marta. "But more than playing there's also the audience, the fans—the response I get. They always push me to love and play more and more." Let your fans do the same for you.
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