In this Sept. 8, 2018 photo, Candelaria Cabrera plays with a soccer ball in Chabaz, Argentina. "Cande," as she is known by friends and family, is the only girl playing in a children's soccer league in the southern part of Argentina's Santa Fe province, birthplace of stars including Lionel Messi, Gabriel Batistuta and Jorge Valdano. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Girl soccer player challenges gender rules in Argentina

September 11, 2018 - 1:41 pm

CHABÁS, Argentina (AP) — At age 7, Candelaria Cabrera goes after the soccer ball with determination. She drives toward her rivals without caring much about getting hurt and deftly manages the bumps on the dirt field.

She wears a loose white jersey from Huracan de Chabas, her hometown, located 230 miles (370 kilometers) north of the capital, Buenos Aires.

"Cande," as she is known by friends and family, is the only girl playing in a children's soccer league in the southern party of Santa Fe province, birthplace of stars including Lionel Messi, Gabriel Batistuta and Jorge Valdano.

But a regional regulation that prohibits mixed-gender teams in children's categories threatens to take her off the field — a ruling that has helped dramatize the inequality in opportunities for men and women in this soccer-crazed county.