Argentinian football star Estefanía Banini is a champion of women's equality in sports
Get to know Argentinian football sensation Estefanía "Estefi" Banini as she gets ready to play in the Copa América Femenina. Discover her backstory and learn how she defied the odds to become the captain of her national team and one of Spain's most prominent football stars.
Now leading her team in the Copa América Femenina, Estefanía Banini has cemented herself as one of the most renowned names in football, championing women's equality in sports and serving as a stellar teammate both on and off the field. The Argentinian athlete who currently plays as a forward for her national team and Spanish Primera División Club Atlético de Madrid was recognized by FIFA/FIFPro World XI 2021 as one of the world's 11 best players. She's also part of the FIFA World Cup Dream Team. Her accomplishments demonstrate how far perseverance, strength, passion, and solid family support have taken her, and she has blazed a trail for future women to follow in her footsteps no matter what skeptics may say.
Banini's story begins in 1990 when she was born in Mendoza, Argentina, to a family of athletes. Full of energy and dreams, she was a natural as soon as she started kicking a ball around at a young age. She joined a male indoor football club, the Club Cementista de Mendoza, when she was only seven years old. Her two brothers were remarkable volleyball players, which made her parents initially doubt that she would become a football player. Uninterested in volleyball, Banini knew that she had to enter this male-dominated world of football. Despite her parents' hesitancy, they gave their full support.
While her 5'4" height and light weight made her stand out among the male players, Banini saw her physical attributes as strengths instead of limitations. They drove her to stay focused, challenge herself, and continually improve her game. At 16, she joined Las Palmas Club to be part of an 11-player team in her hometown, further expanding her skillset and gaining people's attention. The U-17 national team soon recognized her midfield talent and signed her to play in the Copa América Femenina 2010. Her outstanding performance in that tournament made her a hot target for international teams, and she was then recruited by her first "home team," Chile's Colo Colo. There, she wore the iconic red, black, gold, and white colours and won 10 titles over the next four years, including the Copa Libertadores in 2012.
Ever evolving and wanting to explore new shores, Banini decided to go abroad in 2015 to play in the U.S. for the Washington Spirit, ending her Latin American football stint for the time being. After a short run in America, she decided to travel again later that year, this time taking her talents to Spain to join Valencia CF as a midfielder, playing in the Copa de la Reina in the 2016-17 season.
In 2019, Banini left Valencia CF to play in her first World Cup in France as Argentina's team captain. Once again, her leadership skills on and off the field were highlighted, earning her a contract with Levante UD, another club based in Valencia, where she played until 2021. During that season, she was honoured as one of Valencia's top leaders thanks to her determination, team skills, and passionate attitude.
For many football players, wearing a team jersey means "leaving it all on the field" to ensure victory for their team, and that's where it ends. For Banini, wearing her jersey goes beyond the field and goal scoring; it means championing her ideals of gender equality and supporting causes she cares about, creating a path for female athletes to follow in any sport they wish.