I remember when we were on holiday at campsite and I wanted to play soccer with some guys. One of them didn’t want me to be on his team because according to him “girls can’t play soccer”. After I proved to him that girls are in fact able to play soccer by scoring several goals and leaving him astonished, he went quiet really quickly.
The stereotype of soccer being a sport only played by men is widespread. And you can’t really blame people because even though the women’s soccer teams are quite successful, you hardly ever hear of them in the news, and you can barely watch their matches in free TV.
The history of women’s soccer started in 1884 as the first female team was founded in Great Britain. In 1921 women were not allowed to play inside the stadiums because it was “not appropriate and should therefore not be supported”. In 1970, only 52 years ago, the ban was cancelled. Since then, women’s soccer has grown, but never got as big as men’s soccer.
Did you know that the women’s team of the Vfl Wolfsburg won the DFB Cup eight times in the last 10 years? That’s more than most of the men’s teams and still hardly anybody knows about them.
Even in my career as a soccer player I was often confronted with stereotypes. Some thought I wasn’t feminine enough because I played soccer. They thought it was too rough for women. I never really cared about these comments, even though I thought they were annoying. Many boys revised their opinion after the saw me play. Many tried to compliment me by saying “you’re really good at soccer for a girl”. This is not a real compliment, in my opinion. Either I’m good at playing soccer or I’m not. It has nothing to do with my gender. I am capable of competing with men and I don’t want to be put in a special position.
Stereotypes dominate our lives. Many sports are categorized into “male” and “female”. Any rough sports like soccer, football or rugby are considered to be more suitable for men, whereas creative sports like ballet, dancing or gymnastics are seen to be more feminine. I think that everybody should be able to the sports they love without being confronted with annoying comments. Maybe someday it can be considered an honest compliment to “kick it like a girl”.
Author: Leonie Janke