Last updated: 5 December 2023
4 min read

In Partnership with Rebel Girls

Barbara Bonansea

Find out how Barbara Bonansea made fantasy a reality: from studying Cristiano Ronaldo’s signature free kicks to putting them in action in the Italian top division.

Barbara Bonansea. Forward and midfielder, Italian. Born: 13 June, 1991.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who couldn’t sit still. Ever since she was five years old, Barbara was on the go. She played volleyball and took dance lessons.

But football was always her favourite. Barbara and her brother often played in the courtyard of their house. They would run circles around each other, dribbling the ball and punting it off the walls of the building. And when she wasn’t playing football, Barbara was watching Cristiano Ronaldo play on TV.

She studied his techniques, especially his signature knuckleball free kick—a type of strike that sends the ball unpredictably wobbling through the air at a high speed.

“I want to be an example for young girls because, when I meet them, I see myself in their eyes, which are full of dreams and aspirations”.

Football Stories: Barbara Bonansea

Barbara tagged along when her brother went to their local football club to play. Unlike her brother, she didn’t belong to any team. She just played for fun. She’d often sit on the sidelines and watch as her brother and his teammates practised passing and scoring goals. She was happy to watch them, but secretly, she wished she could join them.

Then, one day, the coach came over to where Barbara was sitting. “Will you come play with us?”, he asked.

Those six little words made Barbara’s heart soar. She jumped up and raced onto the pitch.

Football Stories: Barbara Bonansea

Over time, she became a speedy midfielder, making crucial assists and epic long-range goals. With a quick flick of her foot, she could fake out her opponents, dribbling away before they even realized she’d stolen the ball! And she perfected that knuckleball free kick she always admired.

Barbara may have started out watching the boys, but now she races down the pitch at Juventus Stadium with thousands of fans looking on.

Football Stories: Barbara Bonansea

Dear girls,

Love what you do. Value relationships, which are what help you grow. Follow your passion without being intimidated if someone tries to dissuade you. Be strong and believe in yourself. Sport is freedom.

-Barbara Bonansea

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Illustration by Sofia Moorefield

Originally published: 28 September 2023