NEW YORK WEATHER

When Claudia Riumallo Pineda wakes up, it does not take her long to know where she is.

From her bedroom window, she can see the Johan Cruyff Stadium inside Barcelona’s Ciutat Esportiva training ground, where she dreams of one day playing for the women’s first team.

She is on the right track. The 18-year-old is one of nine trailblazers who this season became the first female players to enroll at La Masia, Barca’s famed football academy and proving ground for the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.

Since its opening in 1979 as an old house next to Camp Nou, La Masia has never had female residents.

But the women’s team has been knocking on the door for a long time, with Barcelona Femeni winning the Champions League, Liga Femenina and Copa de la Reina last season.

“This year they have given us La Masia, which is a gift,” says Claudia, who for years had to travel an hour by car from her town of Girona just to be able to train with girls.

After playing for local rivals Espanyol, she now represents Barca B and in the afternoons studies chemistry at university.

Shaken by financial crisis and the unexpected departure of Messi, most of the good news around the club…

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