A little while ago, I was watching a women’s soccer game. As I’ve learned through trial and error, naming clubs and supporters is not always the smartest thing to do, so let me just say that it was a cup game, in which a Dutch amateur team played against a club from the Eredivisie (the pro league). This brought many new, curious spectators to the amateur team’s grounds, interested to see how those well-payed pro players would hold up against the local pride.
That in and of itself is good news, of course. Even the men from the club’s management decided to show up, and the cafeteria employees almost didn’t have enough manpower to supply all the new arrivals with a drink at half time. But even before the game had started, I heard some men talking to each other a few rows in front of me, and I was painfully reminded of the image that women’s soccer still often has in our country.
Three corner kicks equals a penalty
‘Do the women also get a penalty after three corner kicks?’ Man #1 jokingly said to Man #2. For those of you that are not so familiar with this rule: in games for the youngest players, it’s quite common that instead of taking corner kicks, a team is awarded a penalty kick after they should have gotten three corner kicks. A rule that, and you’ll have to excuse me here if my guess is off by a few years, is abolished after the players in question turn seven or eight.
At the moment of hearing the remark I’m trying to consider what I would find more irritating: if Man #1 actually thinks this is the case in women’s soccer, or if this is his way of making a degrading comment about the sport in front of his buddies.
I swallow my first unsophisticated reply, and suppress the urge to step towards him and tell him how it is. It’s no use. You can’t be that sad loner on a feminist crusade, correcting every single person that even appears to say something negative about women’s soccer. But the temptation is so big…
Rather today than tomorrow
That’s why the Euros can’t start fast enough, if you ask me. Of course, the odds that an immediate and earthshaking change happens in how the men’s soccer world looks at ‘us’ women are tiny. That’s a process, that will go in small steps, with or without a European Championship in our own country. But this particular step is so important.
Let ‘the men’ say that women’s soccer is slower, less technical, and not as spectacular. I’ll give it to them, sometimes they’re right. But if the Netherlands can use this summer’s event to show everyone how much of a soccer celebration the Euros can be, and that there are in fact female players in Europe that are extremely able on the pitch, maybe we’ve taken yet another step in the right direction. Dear Euros, I know you’re currently 138 days away from us. But we can’t wait.
Thanks for reading, talk soon! 🙂