Friday, January 22, 2010

“She doesn’t kick like a girl”

As a follow up from my last blog I must share my most recent soccer experience. As I waited for the adult game to start, I watched the youth soccer practice finish up. As they scrimmaged, I noticed there were a couple of talented young girls. It was great to see these young girls playing soccer and giving the boys a run for their money. To add to my joy, I hear the guys next to me say, with a sideways glance toward me, “you know…you can’t take them for granted just because they're girls.”

"Great!!" I thought. They can see that women can compete with the men and I’m proving to be a good example!! As they notice my happy grin, one man decides to elaborate by saying “see this one [points at one of the girls playing]…she doesn’t kick like a girl!!” Trying not to let my grin fade I think, "so close…and yet so far away." Again I fought the urge to lecture…“what you mean is that she kicks like a soccer player. After all, she is in fact a girl and therefore kicks like a girl; a good, girl, soccer player. Sex has nothing to do with the quality or standards of kicking, the sport of soccer does.”

It seemed to get worse from there. As the adult game got going I blocked a shot on goal. Now it’s important to understand that for some of the young men, these shots seem to be an opportunity to display their power and not-to-be-reckoned-with-maleness. Consequently they kick the ball as hard as they can. This irritates me to no end because when the ball is kicked so hard, control is almost totally lost. Thus it goes soaring off into the nets, sideboards, people…basically anywhere but the goal (granted it does get there quickly). However, since the point of shooting is to score, I am continually frustrated by this unnecessary, fruitless tactic.

So when I blocked this forceful ball, it smacked my upper body and it hurt. But despite my momentary pain I would rather that everyone just continued to play, AS I DID. But no I get an apology “I’m so sorry, are you ok?” Yes, I am! Can’t you see I am still playing, not crumpled on the ground crying. I’m a soccer player, and as such I expect that I will get hit. In fact I will place myself in the ball's path in the hopes that I will get hit. That’s the point! Maybe next time I will just respond by saying “no problem, you were just kicking like a boy!”

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