Main difference between soccer in Croatia and in America – organization.
In Florida and actually throughout the whole United States girls and boys play soccer for a club team up until the age of 18. And they can also play for their high school team during the high school soccer season which lasted about 2-3 months out of the year.
In Europe however, there are neither high school competitive leagues nor college ones, except a futsal league that runs for most of the winter semester but that’s not necessarily at the same caliber of competition or organization.
Club teams in Europe have players ranging from the ages of 18 to 35 and they tale care of their players which is how women can make professional careers.
In the US, however, the college season lasts only about 3 months a year and only 4 years because that’s how long players have eligibility approved by the NCAA which monitors every rule and regulation that all players and coaches have to abide by, and then there is a huge gap between the college level and professional level so most players, at least the ones that I know, stop playing competitively after college.
Also, players have to pay to go to college and therefore pay to play soccer in college as well.
Although there are scholarships its still not very easy because of the money factor, Whereas in Europe it comes down to talent if you can find a team or not and you don’t have to pay anyone because your coming with the expectation to get paid or have the club take care of your essential needs like housing, food and transportation.
This being said, Croatia is not on the European level for women’s soccer.
In Croatia most of the general population doesn’t even know that there is a national football team that exists and have no idea that we play official Fifa and Eufa games every two years. So there is no real support from any types of groups or fans because to most people we practically don’t exist.
Then, on top of that, there is no financial support in almost any of the women’s clubs in Croatia except a select few, and even then there is not enough money for the players to comfortably live off their paycheck without any other type of financing.
The traditional Balkan way of thinking is still that women should be in the kitchen cooking meals or cleaning rather than on the field playing in mud to the knees and kicking a ball around, so that definitely doesn’t help, but more people especially the younger generations are more used to the idea and accepting that women really do play soccer and at the same level as men do as well.
Speaking of men, ironically enough soccer is the most popular sport in Croatia for men and they make the most money out of any other athletes playing any other sport.
So why not that same equality for women?
There is a lot of developing still to be done in Croatia but we are on the road to improvement slowly but surely and there are a lot of people trying to make better things happen for women who play soccer in Croatia because there is so much talent but bad conditions.