Category Archives: The Football Association

NO WOMEN WERE INVOLVED…

… In any of the (many) mistakes that officials made in any of the premier leaguer games yesterday.

Phew, we are relieved…. It seems that it’s nothing to do with your gender, if you make a mistake as a man…. But everything to do with your gender, if you don’t make any mistakes at all.

How confusing!

We’d like to thank Gary Linekar for the superb little dig he made re one of the mistakes (made by a man) in one of the games yesterday. It’s good to know that high profile men are finding the whole debacle an important enough issue to not let it go just yet.

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A small word about the offside rule

How heartening to see the reaction from established sports personalities to the appalling remarks made by Gray and Keys regarding Sian Massey. Kenny Dalglish and Rio Ferdinand we are grateful to you both for voicing your support for her and your disgust at the two commentators’ attitudes.

 

But let’s not forget that the ubiquitous and rampant sexism within the field of sports is going to take more than this event to break down. I‘m still waiting for a response to a letter I wrote to the BBC regarding their patronising and pathetic attempt to feature women’s sport in the Sports Personality of the Year programme  before Christmas. A 40 second slot devoted to women’s sport under the title ‘girl power’, within a two hour programme. No mention of our successful Cricket, Rugby, Football or Hockey teams; language such as ‘golden girls’ being bandied about. The BBC has as much to answer for as Sky does. And it seems to be having some trouble in coming up with a response.

 

Sky should sack both Keys and Gray for their insults to women. If it has any business sense –  not to mention ethical and cultural sense – then it will . But we need to look much deeper at the attitudes we have to women and sport and address them head on. This means giving girls every opportunity to take part, to celebrate their role models (and know who they are), and to be allowed to compete and be rewarded in the same way that boys and men are. This means taking to task the boardroom culture which dominates sport and getting more women in top positions. And it means that we finally need to wake up to the fact that women are informed and engaged consumers of sport in all its forms.

 

Off-side rule for girls…

Kim Little is top goal scorer of the year

Hooray, England are out of the world cup. Well, not really hooray, as I love a bit of football, love supporting England and was really looking forward to it, like many of us. But now we’re out, and in such spectacularly disappointing style, the press are full swing into the autopsy and it’s been interesting to compare and contrast the achievements of our men to that of our women’s team.

Yesterday those achievements were celebrated at the 12th FA Women’s Football Awards. Kim Little received most honours for being top goal scorer as well as many others including Natasha Dowie, Katie Chapman and Jordan Nobbs (seen below) who was young player of the year.

We’d like to add our congratulations to these women and to shout from the roof-tops about their successes as well as to the inspirational Hope Powell, Lewisham born,  for receiving her CBE in this years Queen’s honours list. So great to have so many role models for our girls to aspire to be… a bit more of this and a little less of the ‘Future WAG’ or ‘WAG in training’ t.shirts wouldn’t go amiss, how about Future Football Manager, or Future Young player of the year instead?

Hilarious.... isn't it?

Ironic, or just plain sad really, that our highstreets are plastered in the *hilarious WKD ads. (Dare I mention them in case I get the usual onslaught  accusing me of not having a sense of humour…yawn yawn (see Guardian piece today, including string of vitriol below),

Well, I do dare, because the plain fact of the matter is, is that whilst we’re busily being told how stupid we all are in the ads… Sport England’s Active People survey in 2008 tells us that 260,000 women and 1.1 million girls play some form of football in England and that there are 26 million females playing across the world, of which 4.1 million are playing affiliated football – this is a 54% growth since the year 2000 (FIFA Big Count 2006) and I’d wager that those numbers have risen since then too.

Young Player of the Year - Jordan Nobbs

So, whilst you ‘ad lads’ are all having a laugh at the expense of the girls (offside rule blue ad) and even the WAGS (the orange ad) whilst supping your neon alcopops… there are loads of us ‘girls’ who know exactly what off-side is thanks…. and it’s our job to remind you that we exist. So before you have a go at me for daring to speak up about how pathetic, the ads are…

I’d focus on reminding our ‘lads’ where the back of the net was first…. no?

Girls get their kicks by Helen Donohoe

My niece is doing amazing things. At the vulnerable age of seven she is making her very own stand against the pinked up tyranny that surrounds her.  She doesn’t like pink anymore. Hallelujah I cry. Not only that but she would like to wear shorts rather than that school dress please. Good choice! Much better for climbing. She’s also taken the brave decision to wear her football kit of choice as she proudly takes part in the inevitably boy-dominated football sessions after school. All the braver because her football kit of choice is Tottenham Hotspur’s.   The boys in their mass marketed Chelsea and Man Utd uniforms think this is funny – but she can handle that.  What she finds much harder to cope with is the horrible stick she gets from the girls; ‘you look like a boy’, ‘that’s what boys’ wear’ ‘do you want to be a boy?’.

It’s so familiar to me. It’s as if 30 years of my life never happened. In 1979 I was in exactly the same place.  The kit was red with white sleeves but the bullying was just the same.

On the face of it that is quite depressing. However if you look closer there is room for a smile. There will always be spirits that can not be fenced in. No force in the world would ever stop me playing football (and many have tried).  But women and girls all over the world play football in far tougher circumstances than I or my niece have ever faced. I sent this article to her as a reminder of that.

And here’s another great piece of film.

However, we need a prevailing culture that means you don’t have to be brave or tough to have the same choices as boys.  Naturally cultural change is complex and multi-faceted but role models are essential.  That is why it is absolutely critical that the Football Association get women’s football right. They govern the game in England, where the game was invented.  They have responsibility for the development of the game at all levels and ultimately they have the ability to allow women and girls’ football to thrive – or in the current climate at least survive.  Arsenal Football Club have for over ten years set the inspirational standard of what women and girls’ football could look like.  The players are heroes. My two year old girl can shout their names and if I ever need reminding of how far we have come, I just take my daughters and their friends to join the crowd that every Sunday watch Arsenal women play.  This year they won the FA Cup and League again.

However, they really are the exception that proves what the norm could be.

Thirty years on from my experience as a girl daring to be different the links are still missing.  When girls on the one hand can dream of growing up to be Rachel Yankey, but still face bullying for just wanting to join in with the boys (or hopefully other girls playing football) we still have a long way to go. If you’re a football fan ask your club what they are doing for women and girls’ football (pink scarves in the club shop is not the right answer!) or remind the FA how critical it is for them to invest in the women’s game.

Not every girl or indeed boy will get their kicks from chasing a football around a park.  However, that should be their choice and no one else’s.

Orla - supporting Arsenal Ladies

Orla - supporting Arsenal Ladies