Growing number of foreign players join Argentina’s women’s league

Japanese striker Ichika Egashira, inspired by Lionel Messi’s World Cup victory with Argentina, ventured to play in Argentina’s women’s soccer league despite language and cultural barriers. Her success with Excursionistas led to a signing with River Plate. She represents a wave of foreign players drawn to Argentina’s rich soccer tradition and passionate fan base, despite economic challenges.

Foreign players, including Egashira and Yuria Sasaki of Boca Juniors, are attracted by Argentina’s soccer culture rather than financial incentives. The league’s professionalization in 2019 has sparked international interest, with clubs allowed up to six foreign players each. Egashira’s positive experience has sparked curiosity among her Japanese peers about the league’s potential.

While clubs like Boca Juniors and Ferrocarril Oeste have embraced foreign talent, Japanese players Fuko Takahashi and Runa Watanabe also contribute to Argentina’s soccer landscape. Agents see Argentina as a platform for player development.

For French player Eponine Howarth, joining Ferrocarril Oeste marked a return to professional soccer and a chance to immerse herself in Argentine soccer culture. The league’s diverse makeup fosters cultural exchange among players.

According to Ferrocarril Oeste coach Franco Bertera, foreign signings benefit clubs economically, as players often seek housing and meals rather than high wages. The integration of foreign players enriches the league and promotes cultural exchange, benefiting both local and international players alike.

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