Roma Women are gathering momentum in their first season together in Serie A.
With a squad full of talented individuals who are up for the test, Roma are planting the seeds for future success as they aim to make a statement in their debut campaign.
They are doing so with a squad of players from a wide range of backgrounds. Alongside several of the homegrown Italians and Romans in the squad, there are a number of international players who have come to Rome to play their part in helping the team achieve their ambitions. One of those is Emma Lipman, the English defender who is proving to be a key component of the lineup.
Adapting to a new environment is a challenging process. Taking the decision to move abroad can be difficult for anyone. For Nuneaton-born defender Lipman though, it was an opportunity for development on a personal and professional level. The 29-year-old centre-back arrived in Rome in the summer having gained a year of experience in Italian football with Verona. She seems settled into the Italian culture now, and with only a small proportion of the Roma squad speaking English, it’s been an exciting test for her to get to grips with the Italian language. Communication is no barrier to how well connected Roma’s women’s team is.
“In total we have seven internationals who all speak English,” Lipman reveals to Giallorossi Yorkshire. “For sure it helps when you can communicate in the same language and naturally you grow closer. I have done especially with the girls I live with.
“However the beauty of this team, even with the non-English-speaking Italians, we have all managed to connect on some level and this has really helped with our team spirit! I like the fact that I have to speak more Italian now and on the pitch it’s all I speak… it’s the only way I’m going to improve and believe me there’s still room for lots of improvement!”
Even though few of her teammates share her native language, Lipman is flying the flag for the number of English-speaking Roma fans worldwide, particularly back in the UK. With only John Charles and Ashley Cole having represented Roma before as British players, UK-based fans feel proud to have someone from their country playing for their club.
When asked if she was aware of the large amount of Roma fans back home in the UK, Lipman admits: “Not at all. I knew that AS Roma was a big club with a lot of history but I wasn’t aware of how big and varied their fan base was.
“At our last home game I was fortunate enough to meet a member from the AS Roma UK fan group. He gave me a scarf and made me an official member. It’s always nice to know that you have that support from back home in addition to around the world too.”
She is a fantastic player, she is British and plays for the best team in the world @ASRomaWomen.— AS Roma UK - London (@ASROMAUKOFF) December 23, 2018
Now she is also officially a member of #ASRUK!
Welcome to the Pack, @emmalippo08!□❤️□#ASRoma #ASRomaWomen pic.twitter.com/OU6upzQUuh
With the women’s team being fully integrated with the men’s team, Lipman has felt part of one united group during her time with the club. It has enabled her to meet several famous faces – including the most-revered Roman of them all…
“The link with the men’s team is strong,” explains the defender. “When media opportunities come up it’s usually a mixture of both the men’s and women’s players so being in that sort of an environment now is becoming part of the job.
“Meeting Totti was a real honour! He’s an absolute legend in Rome so I felt very fortunate to be able to meet and speak with him.”
Another famous face she has met and taken inspiration from is Mia Hamm, the legend of the women’s game who is now a director at Roma after a distinguished career with the US national team. Two-time World Cup winner Hamm recently paid a visit to the squad, and it was an experience Lipman is unlikely to forget any time soon.
“It was really amazing to meet and listen to Mia Hamm. She is someone I’ve admired since I was a young girl. What she achieved along with the rest of the USA team in the 1991 World Cup not just on the pitch but off it too is one of my earliest memories of how powerful women’s football and individual players can be.
“She had some amazing advice and I was very inspired after listening to her. The main thing I took away is how playing in the here and now can influence what’s to come in your future. Similar to my own beliefs football has the ability to offer you a platform for whatever’s next. That excites me a lot.”
Roma have made a lot of progress in their first campaign in Serie A Femminile. Steady improvements in results have seen Betty Bavagnoli’s team rise to a very respectable position in the league, and with nine games left to play, there are plenty of opportunities awaiting for Roma to showcase their abilities against all kinds of opponents.
Despite the good form the team have shown recently, Lipman is reluctant to put a target on Roma’s season.
“When you’re a new team I honestly don’t think you can set yourself a target, all you can compare yourself to is the last game. I think it’s important we continue to learn and grow together game by game like we’ve already shown and see where we end up in the league at the end of the season.”
It’s a well-reasoned, mature response which shows the kind of leadership qualities Lipman possesses. She knows it’s important for the younger players to be given the right guidance as they progress as footballers, and it’s too soon for over-ambitious targets to be set. However, she does see one opportunity for the squad to challenge themselves and lay down a marker. With Roma looking forward to a two-legged Coppa Italia quarter-final with Roma CF, Lipman is confident her teammates can accomplish something in the competition.
“Anything is possible in the cup,” she enthuses. “I’ve mentioned to a few players and staff already how this season has a very close resemblance to my first season at Manchester City. In our first year together we ended up winning the Continental Cup so if we can repeat the same here winning the Coppa Italia then that would be another nice start.”
Lipman has accomplished a lot in her career, but it is clear she still has a lot of ambition. Italy has given her a platform to achieve certain dreams in, and there’s one particular goal she has in football that she wants to tick off. And, if the team continue to develop, Roma might give her the chance to fulfil it in coming seasons.
“I want to play in the Champions League. I’m not getting any younger and I want to challenge myself against the best teams in Europe along with enjoying all that the competition has to offer. The Italian league is definitely growing in quality and while teams like Juventus, AC Milan, Fiorentina continue to improve it will make for an interesting battle to gain one of the two spots.
“I know that AS Roma have every intention to be part of that battle and have big ambitions for the future, qualifying and playing in the Champions League being one.”
Joining Roma seems to be something that Lipman doesn’t regret. She speaks only positively of her time at the club and is enthusiastic about the culture of the setup. Playing for this team, in this amazing city, has been inspirational for her.
As one of Bavagnoli’s most-used players this season, it’s evident that the club are equally happy to have her among the ranks. She is a valuable member of the team in their process of growth, and when asked about her personal targets for the remainder of the season, she gives a selfless response that speaks volumes of her character.
“Right now I’m just so happy to still be developing and enjoying my football. I want to continue being that experienced voice in the back line, giving my all to help grow this young squad on and off the pitch. If I can achieve that, anything else is a bonus.”
There’s a great deal of talent in this squad, and it’s clear to see how lucky Roma are to have a player like Lipman. Her character and playing ability bring an important dimension to the side. She is definitely a team player, the importance of which cannot be understated for a brand new squad. This campaign is all about giving the new side something to build on, and Lipman is one of the many people ensuring the foundations being set are strong. Her relationship with the club is one of mutual benefit, helping Roma to build something special for the future.
Long may it continue.