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Feelings Express

I want to be on the field but on my terms!

Kanika (15) loves football at school, but she and her friends are worried about continuing with the sport. Are their worries great enough to force them to quit? Step into her world as she questions and challenges stereotypes, and shares her love for the game.

 

Kick-off

Most of us started playing football last year, in the 8th standard. Some of the girls were new to the sport, just like me, while others were a bit more experienced. Our team practices are scheduled twice a week. We are now in grade 9 and can’t help but exclaim, ‘kya mazza hai!’ We’re improving together but still have a long way to go.

We regularly meet up for practice and enjoy playing the game. Our school team has played a few tournament matches, and I recently joined a football club. It’s honestly such a fun game, and we have loads more to learn!

But lately, our practices are less frequent, and we are becoming less excited to play. 

Motivating or demotivating?

Our school also has a boys’ football team, and we watch their matches to improve our skills. Most of the boys at my school love football and have been playing for years. However, there is quite an apparent difference in the skill level of the boys’ team and girls’ team.

While we sometimes struggle to dribble, pass, and shoot, the boys have mastered some of these and many more techniques.

Although aspiring to be as skilled as them is definitely a motivator, it is also really demotivating. 

“What if we’ll never be as good as them?”

“We probably don’t even have half the skills they do!”

“I think we’ll never improve”

These are only some of the worrying thoughts that run through our heads.

Challenges beyond football

We are often treated differently than the boys. At school, we were not allowed to wear shorts to morning and day practice, but the boys were. After parents spoke to the school about the issue, we were granted permission to wear shorts to morning practices, but only if we changed in another building. The boys can come to class in shorts and change a little later than us, in the main building.

Often, the girls’ team practices are cancelled as there is not enough room for both the boys and girls to practice on the ground. Understandably, the boys’ team is much more experienced than us, but is it fair that the school gives them more privileges?

Many girls are also discouraged from playing sports. Families and teachers advise us to focus on our academics as we are nearing our 10th board. This wasn’t the only discrimination we faced, though. 

Bridging the gap

The boys are experienced, hardworking, motivated, and, most importantly, focused. We get it. We look up to them in football and respect them, so why can’t they respect us beginners?

It hurts when we are laughed at and made fun of for not playing well. Do we deserve it?

All this negative energy is causing many of our teammates to lose interest in football and other sports. Is there any way to go back to the time when we had a profound love for the sport?

What next?

Honestly, I think we’re still learning. In addition to being late starters, males and females have stark physical differences. Many with heavy/painful periods choose to miss a practice instead of suffering, and that’s totally understandable!

The best thing everyone can try is to respect one another’s strengths and weaknesses. You never know what anyone is going through. Encouraging each other and treating everyone with kindness is the best solution to breaking stereotypes.

Playing sports is not just about scoring goals or winning races, it’s about improving yourself, making friends, and having fun!

Names have been changed. This article has been authored by a member of our TeenBook Advisory Board (TAB). Please click here to learn more about what TAB is and how to join

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