Having 2 sons who both play football (one only auskick but that can be more physical than the real game), I am aware of how much boys love the rough and tumble football brings. My eldest son began tackling this season and that has made the game more enjoyable to watch, and it flows more like ‘real’ football matches. On the weekend we played a team which had 3 girls on their side (one of which was fantastic). However, when it came to tackling, some of our boys hesitated. Did they hesitate because their opponent was a girl? Did they hesitate for fear of hurting their opponent? Did they hesitate because outside the football field, boys are not allowed to man handle girls?
I am a big one for women’s lib but when it comes to a contact sport, I think the sexes should be segregated. I have taught my boys to never hit a girl, never tackle or man handle a girl and to never swear in front of a girl. How do I ‘un-teach’ this out on the football field? In basketball (another of our regular sports played) the sexes do not compete against each other and I think in football, when they reach the level where tackling is allowed, the sexes should be separated. I don’t want my boys afraid to play the game the way they are taught for fear of hurting a female opponent. I know they wouldn’t have the same hesitation going up against other boys.
In contrast to this, I love the fact that more and more girls are now umpiring football matches, especially in our league, the South Metro Junior Football League. 10 years ago there was only 3 girls umpiring and now there is over 25 girls who have joined the league as umpires. We have encountered many girls umpiring our games and they are good, I mean really good. I have seen a young female umpire make a call and behind her I could hear members of the crowd disagreeing with her decision. She never faulted, never showed the crowd any reaction and continued with her game plan. I have also noticed the boys playing show the female umpires total respect, accepting decisions and not carrying on because she is a girl.
I say a BIG yes to female umpires and a BIG no to boys and girls playing in the same competition when physical tackling is involved.
Despite the fact that girls and footy is gradually becoming more popular, it is something I don’t think I will ever do. Sure I’ll play a game during school PE and kick a ball around with my brothers. Playing or even umpiring at a proper game (and by that I mean under 9’s local team) is not something that has ever tickled my fancy. I might sound incredibly girly when I say that footy is just not for me, but it is entirely true. The thought of running around a muddy field is just unappealing to me.
However, one of my friends does play AND umpire for footy and she loves it. Looking at her you would never be able to guess that she plays footy because she is no way considered a tomboy. In fact, she’s just as girly as I am and more than happy to talk make up with you. She plays in an all girl league (something that I know she is happy with because the boys our age all seem to be tall and bulky) but she umpires for the junior boys league. She has a blast umpiring and playing.
Girls playing and umpiring footy is beginning to get a lot more interest (there was even a girl playing in EJ Whitten Legends game a few weeks back). Whilst I couldn’t think of anything worse, there are many girls out there who would kill for an opportunity to play a game of footy. I know that the club my brother plays for has a girl’s team, his team even had a girl in it last season. The whole club is very supportive of the girls who play. My youngest brothers auskick is also very enthusiastic about girls joining up.