Fast and Female: Empowering Girls Through Sport
The world of sports is changing rapidly. The number of women participating in sport has increased from just over 2% in 1970 to almost 20% today (1). Women are now playing a greater role than ever before in all aspects of sport – coaching, refereeing, media relations, marketing and sponsorship, organising teams and competitions etc.
But what does it mean when girls play football? What do they need to know about the game? And how can we make their experience better?
There have been many books published on the subject of women’s football, but few provide comprehensive guides to young players. I am not talking about those aimed at parents or teachers; these tend to focus solely on physical training and tactics. These books often ignore the social side of the game, which is vitally important if we want our daughters to enjoy themselves and become involved in the wider culture.
In order to give my own daughter a good understanding of the game she needs to learn about other things besides her fitness regime. So I decided to write a book about her experiences as a girl footballer. My aim was not only to teach her about the beautiful game, but also how it affects society at large. This is the story of her time as a youth player, and how she fits into the ever-changing world of women’s football.
My name is Pandora, and this is my story.
Chapter 1: The Pitch
The smell of fresh grass and the feeling of cold air on your cheeks is something I’ll never forget. It’s the details that make up a childhood, and every memory is worth cherishing. I was just six years old when my dad first took me out to watch a football match. I had been begging him for weeks to take me, and I think he thought it would be best to let me get it out of my system before the new season began in the autumn.
Little did he know that I’d become hooked instantly.
The ball soared through the air, and a pack of men raced in pursuit like ravenous wolves. They battled for possession, throwing themselves at each other with reckless abandon. My eyes followed the ball as it made its way from one pair of feet to another, before finally resting with a player in a black shirt who blasted it into the net. The goal gave the men in black a one-nil lead over their opponents, and my newfound enthusiasm rose to an all-time high.
I don’t remember much about what happened after that. I think I spent the rest of the day talking about the match to anyone who would listen, and I received a mini football kit for my birthday soon after. Of course, I didn’t really grasp the concept of what I had seen and only retained the memory of the exciting moments. As I grew older, however, my obsession only deepened.
My parents indulged me by signing me up for soccer camp that summer. And the summer after that. And so on and so on until I was signed up for a local club, where I’ve been ever since.
I remember my time at the club like it was yesterday. We trained twice a week in the park nearby, and played every weekend against other clubs from the area. Each session was a blast, and I looked forward to them all month. I made friends with players from other teams, mostly boys but a few girls as well.
Sources & references used in this article:
Teaching Empowerment Through Sport: An Analysis of Fast and Female by F Hogg – 2016 – qspace.library.queensu.ca
Indigenous Australian women promoting health through sport by M Stronach, H Maxwell, S Pearce – Sport Management Review, 2019 – Elsevier
The ‘girl effect’in action sports for development: The case of the female practitioners of Skateistan by H Thorpe, M Chawansky – Women in Action Sport Cultures, 2016 – Springer