Talia Azcarate He was born to play and talk about soccer. Before turning five she played her first ‘pichanga’ and a decade later she joined the women’s under-20 soccer team after scoring three goals in her debut match. She is a goalscorer, fierce, dribbler, essential on professional courts, from which she had to disassociate herself when she came of age to continue university studies and start an office job that completely disconnected her from her passion: soccer; But not for much longer. A few years later, a proposal to comment on a game on television brought her back to her dreams, and in 2022 she will make history by becoming the first Peruvian woman to comment on a Soccer World Cup on the open signal, in this case that of Qatar, through from Latina.
“Commenting on a World Cup is going to be a great responsibility for me, but I am going to enjoy it a lot, I will comment on 14 games, we start with Denmark vs. Tunisia and from there we do not stop”, clarifies Talía, excited.
─You have always said that commenting on a World Cup with the presence of our team is your greatest dream. Is commenting without this a frustrated dream?
That would have been the ideal scenario, but, professionally, commenting on a World Cup being also one of my dreams, is enough. There is a lot of work, many games, there is also the midday block and Latina Deportes.
─How do you see Qatar as the venue for the World Cup?
I had a lot of reservations, but when I went to Qatar for the playoff game in Peru I had no problem. Many people told me to be careful because of culture shock, because there are other beliefs, other customs, women have to be covered up to the knee… Out of respect, I complied with all the provisions, I never had any problem. Neither with the language, because the majority speak English and being a small country, with three million inhabitants, getting around is not complicated.
─Why didn’t Peru make it to the World Cup? What did we miss?
When it’s a single game and not two-way matches as it was handled against New Zealand, when it’s only 90 minutes, you can have a bad day or a low performance of players and that’s it. That happened precisely on June 13, everyone was below the level, it was the worst game of the Gareca era, absolutely nothing came out for us.
─Was the TAS ruling fair in the Byron Castillo case?
It seems to me that a bad precedent is set because a falsification of documents is verified, but the punishment will apply in the next qualifying process and not in the current one. I guess they didn’t want to move the fixture because there’s not much time left before the start of the World Cup, they didn’t want to get in trouble.
World Cup Predictions
─Who is your big favorite to win?
I have the feeling that Argentina could lift the World Cup, and hopefully that’s the case because they have been staying in Europe for a long time. In addition, it is Messi’s last World Cup.
─Which team could be the disappointment?
Germany or Portugal. And if France is left starting the road, it will also be a disappointment because it is one of the favorites due to the great squad it has.
─The great figure of the World Cup?
I have no doubt that this World Cup has to be for Messi.
─Which game that you have commented do you consider the most important?
I have been lucky to be the first woman to comment on the South American Cup, the Copa América, and in that first Copa América that I comment on, we reached the final with Brazil at the Maracana Stadium, with 70,000 people. That must have been the most shocking experience of my career.. Despite not having been champions, I feel that it was the most important game because of everything I experienced and felt.
─Paolo Guerrero was relegated to the Second Division with Avaí from Brazil. Do you think you should think about retirement?
Many people expected Paolo Guerrero to play for Alianza Lima, especially since at some point he expressed his desire to do so, but ended up playing for Avai. He is 38 years old and the natural cycle of a player’s life is that age, precisely, it is undeniable that he is at the end of his career. Paolo is a player with whom we should be grateful for everything he gave to the national teamWe will see if there is another contract or if he decides to end his career, although this last decision is very difficult, all of us who have been footballers know it.
─Did it cost you to leave professional football?
Of course I did, because I enjoyed a lot; but women’s soccer was very incipient. I realized that it was going to be very complex to sustain the university with the training sessions of three hours a day in La Videna, so I made the decision, I had no other option, I was very young when I retired, I was 18 years old. In fact, now that I’m on the other side, I feel a lot of responsibility for women’s football, and it makes me very happy to see situations like the last Alianza vs. Manuchi in Matute, with 30 thousand people. The growth has been exponential, although it is still amateurish.
Genesis of a great dream
─How did you get involved with soccer? How do you start that passion?
My mom was fed up because my dad played very often, like four times a week, and I remember that one day she told her that if she went out to play, she had to take me. Her plan was to boycott his departure. My dad, who was not willing to stop playing, took me and left me in the stadium with the wives of his friends. In the interim, the children of the people who were playing with my father played a ‘pichanga’ and invited me. Since that day I have not stopped playing or going to games with my dad.
─Is it true that the first championship you played was in a men’s team with national teams?
Yes, it was in the Friendship Cup, Edgar Teixeira, who has been the youth coach of the men’s team, told me to play in the championship because the bases did not say that a woman could not play. I’m sure it wouldn’t be able to be permanent over time, but it was an experience. Yoshimar Yotún, Adrián Zela, Luchito García, several who have been professional soccer players and others who continue to be, were there. Then I looked for a women’s team, at that time it was difficult to find a team of 7 and 11 was a real challenge. Through a friend, I found out that they were making a call for the Peruvian national team Sub–20. She was 14 years old, she was giving away a lot of category, she was very young. I tried anyway, it was excellent, I scored three goals and I stayed. She played 10 or winger. As an experience it was invaluable, it contributed a lot to what I do today, it is an added value that helps me.
─How did you get into sports journalism?
I play with the national team until I was 18 years old because it was very difficult to sustain training with the university. I studied communication and marketing, I finished my degree, but when I was already working in a marketing consultancy, eight hours a day, in front of a computer, I received a call from skinny Barnechea, who at that time was director of sports for Latina. He wanted to ask me to comment on the women’s soccer World Cup matches in Canada. He quoted me on the channel on a Saturday, and that same day, he asked me to go into makeup to go on the air. I had never been on television before, it didn’t give me a chance to be nervous, I remember that I went out with the premise of enjoying it and I do that to this day.
─In a sport as masculinized as soccer, have you had difficult experiences as a sports journalist?
I’ve only had one uncomfortable experience, I started on a new channel, we debated and I felt one of the panelists very uncomfortable; but the debate is part of that, everyone has their point of view. When we finished, I left as you do in any game because the differences stay on the pitch. The next day, on my second day at work, they called me from the channel’s offices to tell me that this person had told them that he was not willing to work with women, since none of them knew about soccer, and asked that they fire me. They finally ended up firing him. I am convinced that neither sports nor professions have a gender, I am satisfied with what I am doing, I believe that I am paving the way for the new generations.
─Did this job outlook exceed your expectations?
In fact, the girl Talía, 8 or 10 years old, would be satisfied with what I have achieved today, my reality has far exceeded my expectations. I am so grateful for where life has taken me.
Latina Televisión will begin broadcasting the Qatar 2022 World Cup starting this Sunday at 9:30 am
I have worked as a journalist for over 10 years and have written for various news outlets. I currently work as an author at 24 News Recorder, mostly covering entertainment news. I have a keen interest in the industry and enjoy writing about the latest news and gossip. I am also a member of the National Association of Journalists.