2 July 2011

Women's Football

The FIFA Volunteers signed shirt.

Have you been watching the FIFA Women's World Cup? I am a FIFA Volunteer in the Mönchengladbach stadium so I have seen one live game so far and a number of others on the TV. I have also been following the whole thing in the news as well as observing how the people in my town are reacting to it all.

The thing that strikes me most is the inequality of the way the German public are supporting the German team compared to the way they supported the  male team, and I wonder how it is in your country? In 2006, when the men's World Cup was held in Germany and again in 2010 when it was held in South Africa, almost every car  and house sprouted flags. Since I live in Germany I decided to wholly support the German team and was one of the first to hang a flag on a pole from my balcony and, something I did not do in 2006 and 2010, placed two flags on my car! Few members of the general public have done the same, though the atmosphere in the stadium was, to my mind second to none.

What also disturbs me is the way most men view women's football. They generally denigrate it in comparison to the male game, as well as come out with chauvinistic expressions which they assume are jokes and so we should all laugh. I for one do not. 
FIFA Volunteer Team 7

The women, at best are sadly only semi professional as there is not enough money (yet) in the game to support them professionally. That they nonetheless show great fitness and skill on the field, while holding down a day job as well, is a credit to them. Yet somehow it seems expected of women, just like wives and mothers are expected to be a nurse, child minder, housekeeper, cook and bottle washer and when the lights go out a concubine as well. Where do they get their determination and energy from? 

We should remember that women's football, compared to the male version, is still in its infancy. Many countries do not have many league teams, or systems in place to encourage and train young women. But it is on its way. Already this year I have noticed a marked improvement in the way women play the game compared to last year, at the U20 Women's World Cup.

Clearly the male version of the game in all our countries serves as a role model to boys and men alike. In many cases the professional footballer, (David Beckham for example) is also a sex symbol to young women and girls. This is perhaps why it has a bigger appeal. The women though are equally tough (just witness the way Nigeria tackled Germany) and are equally good role models for our girls and young women. As fathers we should perhaps encourage our daughters to watch these games more and even to play the game. The determination, fitness, and the robustness needed to play the game will stand our women in good stead in the game of life.

So come on chaps, before these championships are over, get behind the women of your country and  support your team and stop the male chauvinistic jokes and reporting in the newspapers.