Women and football
FOOTBALL IS one of the most popular sports in the world and it is undeniable that it is a male-dominated sport. Yet, more and more women are taking an interest in the sport nowadays.
In some countries women’s football has already borne impressive players like retired professional American football player Mariel Margaret ‘Mia’ Hamm, who held the record for most international goals than any other male or female player until 2013, and Brazilian football forward Marta Vieira da Silva.
Hamm was named the women’s FIFA World Player of the Year twice, in 2001 and 2002 and in 2004, she led her team to a gold medal during the Summer Olympics and was also chosen by her fellow US Olympians to carry the American flag at the Athens Closing Ceremonies.
Arguably the most talented female football player of all time, Marta supplies endless skill, tricks and moves during football tournaments. Like Hamm, she was also named FIFA World Player of the Year five consecutive times from 2006 to 2010.
On the other hand, some might not be well received in the male-dominated sport. Who could forget the incident in 2013, where 26-year-old South Korean star striker Park Eun-Seon was humiliated when her gender came into question?
Standing at an astonishing height of 1.80 metres and weighing 74 kg, she was accused of being a man and was ordered to undergo a sex examination to verify her gender by the coaches of the rival teams. The coaches threatened to boycott South-Korea’s women’s soccer league if she refused.
Why is it that if a women standing at that height but was a model would not have her gender questioned but if she proved to be a great athlete, people immediately assume she was lying about her gender? Park underwent sex examinations several times during the World Cup and the Olympics.
According to the talented striker’s manager, Seo Jung-ho, the act was a conspiracy because Park had shown remarkable improvement form after a slump. The act of demanding a sex examination was seen by the club as degrading and a violation of human rights.
Would she have been forced to undergo that sex examination if she wasn’t one of the best players in the country?
In Malaysia, the idea of women playing football is not as greatly welcomed by society mostly because parents do not want their daughters to play the sport. For many, the sport is considered not feminine and therefore unsuitable for girls to play.
Angela Kais, team captain of the national women’s football squad is an exceptional example of never giving up on achieving her dream of playing football even though the football team was suspended back in 2009 during the SEA Games due to their poor performance.
But Angela is determined to prove that the women’s football team is as important as the men’s.
According to Angela, women’s football has been widely expanding in other countries but Malaysia is still not really that open towards women playing the sports as they see it as an unsuitable and unladylike sport.
The athletic Sarawakian started actively playing football back in 2000 when she first joined Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) until she represented the national level.
While the boys are making headlines on the youth nationwide football tournament Piala Mamee 1Malaysia Football Tournament, the girls are not doing so bad themselves.
During the youth nationwide tournament, Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia (YR1M) organised a programme called Female Football Clinic in each zone, which is basically an introductory programme to basic football techniques for girls under 17.
During the 2 ½ hour programme, 4 stand points were prepared for techniques such as dribbling the ball, running with the ball, shooting goals and penalty kick. Towards the end of the programme, the girls had a friendly match to test their newly acquired skills.
Originally, the programme accepted 50 entries per zone, but 52 girls from Penrissen Secondary School signed up.
“The response was good. The girls were really enthusiastic,” said Ung Su Ling chief executive officer of YR1M.
According to Ung, the girls had pretty good skill levels in playing football as some of them were already involved in sport activities.
Perhaps with the introduction this women’s football clinic programme, the Malaysian community will be able to welcome the idea of women playing football and be more encouraging of women getting involved in one of the world’s most loved sports.