soccer lesson from america
In her autobiography, the great American woman soccer star Mia Hamm details how she started playing soccer in Texas when she was five years old.
The Americans have adopted a business-like approach to women's soccer, and so have China, Norway, Sweden and Brazil, and these countries have reaped the rewards by dominating the game at the highest level.
Despite the US not being a traditional soccer-loving nation, their senior team won the inaugural Women's World Cup in 1991 - and their success has been put down to the relative lack of attention afforded the women's game by traditional soccer-playing countries.
Their professional league has been discontinued, though a new one, the Women's Professional Soccer (WPS), will kick off next year.
Regardless, they must be doing something right for Pele to have chosen two Americans as the only women in his list of 125 Greatest Players In the World (Hamm and Michelle Akers) .
Their college league has attracted some of the best players in the world, among them South Africans Lenah Mosebo and Veronica Phewa, Nigerian captain Perpetua Nkwocha and Chinese players Gao Hong and Sun Wen.
For the Chinese also, it is no coincidence that their women's team is among the best - they have soccer schools for little girls, and the same goes for Norway, who boast Brazilian superstar Marta as one of their players. But the most successful model remains that of the Americans, with more than 8,5million active female players.