“A country’s playing style can be a reflection of their culture”

Paris-Saint-German goalkeeper, Arianna Criscione (35) credits her success and drive to pursue a career in football to the support she received from her parents. The Los Angeles CA, born startlet says she knew from a young age that she wanted to pursue a career as a ‘Goalie’.

Criscione speaks highly of her parents and the role they played into propelling her to greater heights.
“I think it’s super important to have supportive parents. I never had to hide my passion for the game and my parents were always supportive. Being an athlete comes with enough stress I can’t imagine having to hide that from friends and family, plus not having the liberty to be myself seems like a nightmare though I know it’s what most girls go through. If families were more open it would give more opportunities to girls,” said Criscione before adding that support from her parents gave her confidence.

“I believe my parents’ support made me a stronger player and woman. They gave me confidence to believe in myself and whatever I wanted to be was possible if I worked hard enough,” she added.

Criscione believes that one needs to be very confident as a person if they aim to make it as a goalkeeper.

“Confidence, resilience, ability to take responsibility, and enjoy it. If you don’t love it, leave it. There’s too much pressure and stress to not love it”

The 35-year old goal-minder has three Italian SuperCups to her name and has had a chance to play in the UEFA Champions League, moments she describes as ‘magical’.

“Winning is always fun, but to play in the Champions League is something else. Traveling to different countries, the buildup up to the match and then hearing the song over the loud speaker is just magical,” she said.

Criscione has had an opportunity to play in different countries. She says her journey has taught her that in order to understand each country’s playing style, you have to first understand their culture.

“I think a country’s playing style can be a reflection of their culture. Scandinavia on a whole is pretty similar. From Norway to Sweden culturally it wasn’t so different. But Italy and Holland are two different worlds. I think it’s important to try to understand the culture which will then help you understand the people and then your teammates. You have to have your eyes open and understand you are stepping into their game and it’s your responsibility to adapt while keeping true to yourself and your own game. Its like picking up different pieces of a rainbow. You can have a rainbow with just three colors and it’s nice, but the more colors you add, the bigger and prettier the rainbow gets. My rainbow is pretty vibrant now but I hope to keep adding to it. I would love to add some colors from Africa one day,” she added.

The United States born goalkeeper is big on educations as she also studied Sports Management at the Football Business Academy and did her internship with Benfica in Portugal. She believes that education is very important for every player.

“I think education is vital to every athlete, but education doesn’t have to be formal. For me it’s more of a state of mind to keep learning and asking questions and then finding answers to those questions. Today there are so many online courses for free that you can study anything that interests you and if you don’t like the class you can start a different one. For me studying is like a hobby that creates a more well rounded person,” she said befpre adding that she believes If players only focus on playing it can become overwhelming and issues can become magnified.

“I think studying helps an athlete to have a balance between sport and their personal life. It allows you to have something off the field to focus on and gives you some ideas on what you want to do or what you don’t want to do when your career is finished. No one can play football forever and have passions and hobbies outside the game is always beneficial in my opinion,” she added.

The well travelled goalie also works in the PSG’s sponsoring department of which she believes her job there is amazing because she’s constantly learning and everyone is very helpful and conscientious of her dual roles.

“As a global brand we are not selling ‘Women Football’ we are encouraging sponsors to partner with a global brand that crosses over many sectors, like fashion and lifestyle and not just sport. So our base is much different from other women teams looking for sponsorship and this has its advantages and challenges,”

Criscione also believes that playing for PSG has completely changed her life.

“It sent my life in a complete 90-degrees spin. Especially personally, I had to leave my fiance in one city of France while I packed up and moved to Paris. Our personal plans have been put on hold and we don’t get to see each other often. But he’s super supportive and I wouldn’t be able to do what I am doing now without his support and reassurance. Plus, I know that with such a big club behind us, the women’s development team can really make impactful change in the game. Plus another chance to lace up my boots everyday with some of the best players in the world is indescribable. I will never regret the decision to play again,” she added.

She also believes that there are positive changes in women’s football.

“While the trajectory is not going up as quickly as most would like it’s always positive and this is something to be happy about,”

The goalie says that little wins keep her motivated.

“I try to focus on the small wins that will later turn into big change. There are obvious setbacks but then I remember how far women football has come and remember we have to keep pushing forward,”

Criscione has also learnt that creativity is a huge skill on and off the field.

“Creativity is a huge skillset and not just a cliche on a resume, and someone saying no, just means you have to get more creative with the question or approach,”

Her advice to young girls especially in Africa, who want to play internationally is to focus on education and work hard.

“Study! and then keep working hard and fighting for what you want. Reach out to people around the world and ask questions. But make sure to pay attention to your surroundings and the people around you. Not everyone is out for your best interest and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Never leave your home with someone just on their word, make sure you talk to the club or a player on the team or someone within the industry about the ‘agent’. There are good people out there trying to improve the game and really help women to succeed but there are unfortunately bad too. Make sure you pay attention and do your homework on the people you are working with,” she said.

Her advice to women who work in the sports media industry is not to let other people’s opinions get to them.

“Fix your objective and then work as hard as possible to achieve it and once you do, find another objective and repeat the process. Don’t let others opinions stop you from reaching your goals. People will always put you down but if you believe in yourself and you surround yourself with those that believe in you there is no ceiling to what you can achieve.” concluded the PSG starlet.