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The Women’s World Cup: We Can All Play

Guest post by Kendra Lee

It’s difficult for me to put into words how I feel about the World Cup. As a soccer fan, I’m in love with the sport. I love everything about it. How it brings people together through human emotions of joy and sorrow. How we can see other flawed human beings working together to achieve something greater than any of them could have managed on their own. The struggles, the triumphs, the stories. And of course the game. How a few beautiful passes strung together can look like art. How a perfectly struck ball sails over the keeper’s head and into the goal. How an immaculately timed tackle can shift the momentum of the game. These are all things I love about soccer.

What I do not love is dishonesty and discrimination. We have all at one time or another witnessed a suspicious call, heard rumours of match fixing, and whispers of money changing hands. It seemed that the game we loved was somehow being controlled by an outside force that we felt powerless to stop. Yet despite all of this, I choose to take in the spectacle that is the Women’s World Cup, which is being played in my country, in the hopes that somehow, something positive is happening on another level. And I believe that it is.

I had the opportunity to see a documentary about the struggle of women’s soccer in Argentina. The movie is “Goals For Girls: A Story of Women with Balls”. Despite the overwhelming belief in Argentina that a woman should not play soccer, that it's a man’s sport, there are courageous women and girls who love the game and passionately continue to work for their right to play. And the idea that is presented by the end of the film, is that if women’s soccer is to be truly successful in Argentina, it must happen away from the AFA and away from the club teams. It must be run by women, and it must be run fairly. If the AFA and club teams continue to handle the project, women’s soccer will constantly play a very distant second fiddle to far more profitable men’s game. But women’s soccer is more than just discrimination and the right to play. It’s about building relationships. It’s about overcoming obstacles. It’s about being healthy. And slowly, very slowly, things are changing. Most people who are reading this are lucky enough to have a Women’s National Team competing in the Women’s World Cup. But the struggle does not end here. It still exists on this stage. There is an irresistible tendency to compare the women’s game to the men’s. If people can open their minds and watch just one game of this Women’s World Cup without comparing it to the men’s game, progress has been made. What I hope can be accomplished is not for women footballers to be exactly the same as their male counterparts, but to be given the same level of respect. The women’s game is different from the men’s. That does not make it better or worse. It has it’s own identity. And it demands the same respect we give to the men’s game. We all deserve the right to play.