Among the most enjoyable elements of SI Kids Magazine, arriving at the page with the sheet of nine perforated trading cards, every issue becomes an opportunity for fans, to learn and connect, with the depicted athletes, through the card experience. Akin to the traditional way of collecting, when opened wax packs of cards revealed the sweet smell of the enclosed bubble gum, there is always a feeling of curiosity as to which athletes will be in the newest issue’s nine cards.
With at least one female athlete featured in said issue, the trading card treatment is an integral way to educate young sports fans about the impact, and growing potential, of women in sport.
The March 2019 issue featured an exceptional athlete, as Norway’s Ada Hegerberg, the first-ever recipient of the FIFA Ballon d’Or for Women, had her image on a trading card. As a side note, the only other female athletes featured on a trading card in this issue included long distance runner Dani Jones. The 2017 NCAA champion for the Distance Medley Relay and the Indoor 3,000 meters, Jones was also the recipient of the University of Colorado Buffaloes Female Co-Athlete of the Year Award.
While the women of US soccer have enjoyed the trading card treatment, it is a rarity to see competitors from Europe featured. Undoubtedly, the impact of said card is that women such as Hegerberg are helping to raise awareness in the United States of international soccer stars, fuelling the growing interest in the female game. As a side note, Karen Bardsley, a member of the English national team graced the pages of the British version of Women’s Health in spring 2018, which is also available in select outlets stateside.
Having competed for Norway at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup as a 20 year-old, (two years earlier, she played with her sister Andrine in the German women’s Bundesliga for FC Turbine Potsdam), Hegerberg emerged as one of the event’s brightest stars. Fast forward four years, and her continued dominance establishes the Norwegians as one of the favorites for the 2019 edition of the World Cup.
Since the last World Cup, Hegerberg, currently a striker for the Division 1 Féminine club Olympique Lyonnais in France (where she won a Coupe de France Féminine Final in her first season of 2014), has amassed a solid body of work. January 2016 would set the tone for the greatness to come, as she became the first woman in two decades to capture the Norwegian Gold Ball, recognizing the country’s best soccer player. In that same year, she reached a new pinnacle as UEFA’s Best Women’s Player, having also led Division I Féminine with 33 goals scored, respectively.
The following year saw Hegerberg gain the honor of BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year. Also in 2017, she led Olympique Lyonnais to another Coupe de France title, along with top spot in the UEFA Women’s Championships, recording a superlative 13 goals in nine appearances.
December 2018 would stand as the crowning achievement in her most recent World Cup cycle, capturing the first-ever Women’s Ballon d’Or. As a side note, the other finalists included Danish competitor Pernille Harder, Lyonnais teammate, Dzsenifer Maroszan, Brazilian legend Marta and Chicago Red Stars striker, Australia’s Sam Kerr.
Fittingly, the back of Hegerberg’s SI Kids card makes mention of her phenomenal feat as the inaugural Ballon d’Or recipient, enlightening young fans of soccer’s global reach. Taking into account that other card brands such as Allen and Ginter (Topps) and Goodwin Champions (Upper Deck) have also featured American and international female athletes in their annual issues, perhaps there will be more cardboard glory for Hegerberg, although winning this year’s World Cup, would understandably be more treasured.