As a girl, Miraildes Maciel Mota resembled Dunga, the diligent captain of the Brazilian men’s team that became world champion in the 1994 Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
Five years later, in 1999, Formiga stood in the same place as her example. This time the sun-drenched Rose Bowl was the setting for the battle for World Cup bronze between Norway and Brazil. Again, it came down to a penalty shootout, a series that was decided by Formiga.
Formiga means ‘ant’
Just like Dunga, this midfielder showed an unbridled work ethic and a great capacity for sacrifice. Hence the football name Formiga, which means ‘ant’.
And to think that when she was born, women’s football was still banned in Brazil. It was not until two years later, in 1980, that the ban was lifted. But when women’s football was first on the Olympic program in Atlanta in 1996, Formiga was there.
Only 18 years old, she already played the semifinals of the Olympic Games with Brazil, but lost to China.