Las Leonas (The Lionesses) have appeared in five Hockey World Cup finals, including the first final in 1974, which they lost 1–0 to the Netherlands. Argentina had to settle with second place in two more finals before winning the tournament for the first time in 2002, beating the Netherlands 4–3 in the final on penalty strokes after a 1–1 draw. Argentina, led by eight-time FIH Player of the YearLuciana Aymar won again in 2010, a 3–1 victory over the Netherlands. Argentina's World Cup winning managers are Sergio Vigil in 2002, and Carlos Retegui in 2010.
Argentina has been very successful at the Summer Olympics, winning four consecutive medals (two silver, two bronze) since the 2000 edition, when they became the first women's team in any sport to win an Olympic medal for their country. Luciana Aymar is the only player that has participated and won those four medals. Also, after their first title in 2001 at a Hockey Champions Trophy, they have won the tournament four more times.
In July 2003, after the implementation of an official World Ranking System, Argentina reached the top of the FIH World Rankings for the first time, reaching it again in 2010 after obtaining the World Cup title and once more in late 2013.
Hockey was introduced in Argentina by English immigrants in the beginning of the 20th century, and the first women's teams were officially formed in 1909.2 In 1997, Sergio Vigil, a former player for the men's national team, was appointed coach. Under his leadership, Las Leonas achieved their first World Hockey Cup title, their first Olympic medals, their first Champions Trophy medals, and many other achievements. The team went from having a rather limited audience to becoming a national sensation, with some of the players even appearing as models in advertising campaigns.
The Lionesses emblem.
Throughout its history, the team has developed a reputation for being tenacious even when a match appears to be lost. For this reason, a lioness was chosen as their symbol when the team qualified for the 2000 Summer Olympics. During the second round of games, Argentina played against the powerful Dutch team, and they chose this occasion to place the image of a lioness on their shirts for the first time.
The image was designed by then-player Inés Arrondo together with Vigil's sister-in-law.3 Argentina won that match, went on to win the silver medal, and Las Leonas were born. Subsequently, the junior (under 21) team is called Las Leoncitas ("the baby lionesses" or "the lioness cubs").
The lioness logo was redesigned in 2006 by the team kit supplier, Adidas, along with Confederación Argentina de Hockey and even some of the most representative players. This is slightly different from the original, showing the lioness' tail pretending to be a hockey stick while holding a ball.4
The team alternates between light blue and black skirt/socks when using their main kit, even during the same tournament, apparently arbitrarily. For example, during the 2010 World Cup, see photos from Day 1 (black), Day 3 (light blue) and Day 6 (black).