If there aren't many people watching us play, what's the point? - Zhao Lina

Zhao Lina is the face of Chinese women's football, the towering beauty rejected a career as a model to play football. She stands at 1.88m (6ft 1) and has said that she wants to use her status in China to help raise the profile of the women’s game. 26 year old Zhao played for China at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil and has more than 50 caps to her name and earns just over 10,000 RMB(US$1500) a month.

Currently she is playing for Chinese club side Shanghai Rural Commercial Bank with the team being fully professional and she is the highest earner, in her first foreign interview she has stated how her team play on a university field and it is barely half full; but without her parents, other players parents and their friends there are only a dozen real fans there to watch the games. Contrast this with the men’s game and the Chinese Super League’s riches and you can see why she has come out saying this in an interview.

Zhao went on to talk of her despair at the lack of attention that is given to the local women’s game in China. She acknowledged that more people watch the women’s international game but stated, "If there aren't many people watching us play, what's the point? People don't know women's football has professional teams. They think we work during the day and have training at night Sometimes I feel women's football is quite pitiful because we are doing the same thing (as the men), making 100 per cent effort”.

Zhao caught the eye of a modelling agency while playing for her club, and the agency approached her club about employing her but her coach refused. Zhao was keen on the idea and even went to visit some agencies to discuss the idea but decided she couldn’t do it. She is hopeful that women’s footballers will one day earn as much as men so she can repay her parents support by eventually buying them a nice house. Unfortunately for Zhao the day where women’s footballers and men’s footballers earn similar incomes isn’t likely to happen any time soon.

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