Brazil women's soccer legend Sissi says returning to her homeland this summer to watch the biggest sporting event in the world is like a dream come true.
The two-time Olympian, who spends her days coaching youth soccer in Walnut Creek and at Solano Community College in Fairfield, is going to Rio de Janeiro for the Summer Games as a representative of her home country and an ambassador for FIFA, soccer's international governing body.
"I know the athletes right now; they can’t wait to start to compete," she said. "I can see every single girl in Brazil waiting for this to happen."
Sissi Lima de Amor, 48, who competed in the games at Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000, turned pro when she was just 14 years old, at a time when girls didn't play the game much. In fact, when she had trouble finding a ball to practice with, she had to compromise.
"Yes, I started to use my dolls' heads to kick for the first time," she said.
Today, she finds it refreshing to see so many girls and women competing on the field. But her real dream is to even that playing field financially - ensuring men and women players are paid equally.
While young women growing up in the U.S. are seeing many more opportunities to play - even professionally - Sissi notes they still are a long way from getting paid as well as the men.
The Rio Games, she said, may be a great opportunity to begin to change that.