Football: A Woman’s View

Women and sports have long been seen as mutually exclusive. I could blame beer commercials or sports reporters or even men themselves, but the truth is even some of my female friends do not know the difference between a freethrow and a punt. Yet not all of the fairer sex has her head in the clouds, surrounded by stilettos and shopping. Although I am a fan of a nice pair of Manolos, I am just as much of a fan of cleats. I enjoy several different sports, but both playing and watching football have been part of my life for as long as I can remember.

You can try to blame it on the fact that I had two older brothers, but I also have a twin sister – and she is as girly as you can possibly get. We look identical, but could not behave more differently! You will never catch her sweating or coming home muddy from a game played in the rain. You will never see her with her face painted cheering amongst other fans or screaming at the referee for making a bad call. When she wanted to sign up for ballet practice, I was out on the field doing three goal shooting drills. While she tried on tutus, I slipped on shin guards.
 
How did two sisters who look exactly the same turn out to be so different? I can pinpoint the exact year: the 1986 world cup. I was ten years old. Already a bit of a tom boy due to the competition of living with two brothers and a sister, I had taken some mild interest in football. As I followed the World Cup, my interest in the sport grew, along with my knowledge of the players and teams. But it was truly the game-winning Hand of God goal scored by Diego Maradona of Argentina that inspired me and ignited a passion within me. Since that game, the goal has been even referred to as the “goal of the century,” but, most importantly to me, just watching the intensity, passion, and dedication on Maradona’s face was what made me feel as if I wanted to be part of something so wonderfully powerful. Even with Maradona’s controversial actions, fiery comments, and questionable lifestyle after he retired, he is still one of my favorite footballers.

After that fateful goal, I enrolled in youth football leagues year after year, played football in high school and college, where I got my Masters in Public Administration . I even play in a local league now and coach a youth league. Getting together with my friends for a pint, painting our faces at games, and enjoying the passions (and pain) of loving a team are just a few of my favorite parts of loving the game. Team and individual player stats are a natural part of my morning news browsing, and my DVR (of course) is still full of recordings from the last World Cup.

Once in a while it’s difficult to be the only woman of the group who has interest in sports – imagine having to tell your mates, “Sorry, can’t go see that movie tonight, the Arsenal game is on” and have them react in confusion and/or disgust. But sometimes it’s fun to educate my fellow females (including my sister) about central defenders, 4-2-4 formations, and wall passes. And, of course, my husband, a fellow football fan, does not mind one bit!

 

By Sally; a soon to be mother with a masters in public administration, who is a health and football fanatic. 

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