The blue and white-clad supporters of Las Leonas have a new heroine. Following the retirement of legendary players such as Luciana Aymar and, most recently, Carla Rebecchi, Argentina needed new superstars to lead them in their search for more honours.
One of those stars of the future is Maria Granatto, who burst onto the senior international stage at the Hockey World League Finals in Rosario in 2015, with some scintillating performances.
For a young player, Granatto has a lot of hockey experience. The ebullient forward says she has been playing hockey since she was four years old, joining her three sisters at the Santa Barbara Hockey Club in La Plata, somewhere she refers to as “my second home”.
Granatto already has a list of honours to her name. In 2013 she was part of the senior Argentina team that won the South America Championship, while with the junior side she was a runner-up in the Junior World Cup. The 2016 Junior World Cup saw Granatto and her team go one better as they took gold, beating the Netherlands in the final.
The 2016 Olympics was a disappointment to Las Leonas – they finished in seventh place and slid to third in the world rankings as a result, but Granatto is positive when she talks of the future: “We are a very young group but with a lot of freshness and enthusiasm. We are forming a great team with great players and that makes us very happy for what is coming.”
And, she adds, “I want to emphasise the point that without my team nothing would be possible, they make me enjoy what is happening on the pitch and allow me to play with confidence. I also thank my family who always supports me and is at every step of my life.
Accepting the award that her fellow Las Leonas player, Florencia Habif collected in 2014, Granatto adds: “I am very happy to accept this award. It give me an enormous amount of pride to be among the best players in the world. It is a very gratifying recognition.”