Look at your own soccer club. Let's face it; the senior men are better than the senior women. But no, it's not just that. It's not just that men are, overall, swifter, stronger, and built with sport-friendly hips. It's not that because men are better at sport we all tune in with a beer to watch the men's footy or the men's rugby on the weekend. I'm not about to argue against a 'biological disadvantage', or even a 'natural hierarchy'.
My women's team is a joke. And I'm not saying that's how it always is. Surely there must be many good women's teams out there if we're able to field the W-league. It's just that I'm not planning to move out of town anytime soon, and in the meantime, this is what I'm stuck with.
Let's take a detour from soccer for a moment. The Opals. Don't be shy. Go on, say it: the Boomers are better. Always have been, always will be. Personally, I didn't hear much about them this Olympics. With Lauren Jackson leading the pack, the Opals were sure to outshine the Boomers on any television screen.
The Opals might pass as a pretty gem, but in the end, they're second best. Because they are not as fast, not as muscly, not built for sport the way the Boomers are. Because they will never reach the same potential as the Boomers in basketball, it must also be true that they will never deserve to enjoy business class in the same way the Boomer's bottoms have this Olympics. Never mind the allegations that the Australian Sporting Commission will withdraw funding from male-governed sporting organisations.
It can't be a black-and-white issue of more funding. My local soccer club recently received a grant in order to build new clubrooms. One large, well-equipped change room was built, leading directly to the front clubrooms and the female toilets. On opening, it wasdubbed 'the men's room'. Come match day, we were gratefully allowed to don our strip in the disabled toilets. The disabled didn't bother coming.
Soon enough, a couple of people chirped up and a few dollars were found to hammer in two extra walls.Now we get a box.At least we only have to strip out in the open for away games. It wouldn't look right for a local spectator to see their chiropractor/auntie/massage therapist/high school teacher parading in their frills.
That or let's just all get changed together and risk spotting someone using the urinal as we make a beeline for one of the cubicles to relieve ourselves. An alternative is hanging up a translucent red sheet in the men's change rooms to create the necessary divide. Exposure, orgy, harem. Take your pick.
But let's take the focus off these fringe benefits for a moment-why are the senior men so much better than the senior women? Is it because they've been denied change rooms and business-size bum seats?
I'll let you in on a secret: it's in the coaching, and in my case, it's the fact that my coach refuses to coach our team on game day. In his words, "I refuse to work with women. I'm not putting up with all the bitching. Soccer is so simple. Soccer is so simple. That's the problem with women. It's that you make it too complicated."
So, after young girls are told this again and again every year, sick of being lectured to instead of being taught skills that match their potential, forced to play with women thirty years older than them and forced to be knocked about, and designated less-than-expert coaches who are later banned from the club for less-than-desirable behaviour, they drop out. It gets to the senior level, and they're gone. Then there's panic, there's promotion, and someone rounds up some of the mums to form a team.
They've never played soccer in their lives. Spectators compare the senior teams and they're neither sexist when they do so, nor pointing out any natural sporting superiority. They're right; compared to the men's game, the women's is ridiculous.
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Laura Maynard is currently studying a Certificate IV in Professional Writing and Editing online with GippsTAFE, having taken intermission from studying a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education at Monash University. I also play in a local rural soccer league.