Football: a game for men and women

Football has often been seen as purview of men. Of course there’s no reasonable sense to that and it was only that women were forbade by men from playing sports for hundreds and more like thousands of years (although we don’t always have records going back that far where gender relations are concerned). Often sidelined when men’s football is also played, women have been playing the sport in the UK for over a century.

The game was quite probably played much longer by women. And die-hard fans of the sport might be chuffed to learned that the oldest football still in existence is believed to have belonged to Mary Queen of Scots. Whether she was a player or just a spectator though we may unfortunately never know.

Women’s football was hugely popular in the beginning of the 20th century. In fact, during the First World War—when many of the men were abroad fighting—women’s football events were hugely popular and often played to raise money for charities supporting the war effort. Unfortunately, after the war a there was negative press—its veracity is still disputed—about women’s football. This eventually led to the banning of the sport. It took almost the rest of the century, until the 1990s for women’s football to reemerge as a common sport in the UK.

Although it’s extremely important to talk about gender equality and although there’s still a long ways to go. We in the UK can be proud of having a record number of women parliamentarians coming off of the recent elections in early June 2017. But these crucial societal issue aside, football is one of the best sports to learn transferable skills.

Of course there’s the array of physical skills necessary for the footballer: endurance, balance, the ability to run and just the general need to be well in shape in order to meet the demands of a very demanding sport. As far as team sports are concerned its one of the most rigorous were calorie burning is concerned. Running plays a massive part in that health benefit.

Beyond the more obvious health benefits that were just mentioned, there are tremendous social and mental benefits as well—regardless of if one is a man, woman, girl or boy. As a team sport, communication is paramount in order to play the game well. Being a part of a football team and practising regularly instils one with a sense of belonging and camaraderie. It also leads—or can lead—to people considering others’ positions. While on the pitch this might be limited to trying to imagine how the pitch looks to a team mate to whom one is about to pass, this skills can be used in the more abstract to imagine what life could look like from another point of view. While that may sound a little far fetched, I can confidently say that for me and many of my teammates we have experienced closeness in life as a result of being team players.

Regardless of gender, the sport offers great opportunities and is one that I would implore anyone out there to readily embrace!