As a girl who loves playing sports, this is something I personally experienced at my “elite” and “modern” school:

I had been on the school team for Basketball and Athletics for a few years, and had a good rapport with all the coaches, when two of my friends who were really interested in Football came up to me with the suggestion of starting a girls’ team. Excited about the whole idea, we went to the football coach. He barely let us finish what we were saying and told us that he would consider it if we got a team ready.

How could we get a team ready without having permission to practice, or even a coach to make us practice?! Anyway, we had to figure something out and so we went around making a list of girls interested in being a part of the football team. We got a list of 31 people, and all of them were really passionate about it. We took this list to the coach (mind that he had told us to get at least 11 girls on board), all proud that we got more girls than expected, and he blatantly dismissed us by explaining to us that “girls don’t take practices seriously” and that we would be unable to get even 5 girls to come for the morning practices.

We were adamant too, so we convinced him to give us a chance and at least decide on a few days when we could come for practice. He gave us one day, ONE DAY in a week for scheduled practice. And why, “so that the senior boys team’s training is not disturbed by the girls, and their lack of skill”… Yup, that is what he said. So we got the one day when the senior boys team had a day off, although the junior boys would still be there.

Now, this coach, who we thought was really sweet and caring before this stunt he pulled, thought it was not worth his time to give the girls training, so he hired a coach to come only on that day to train the junior boys, and pay the girls a little attention. The whole time, we were told that the girls team needs to train before it can become a reality, but we were not given proper training. We were made to play matches with the boys, where the ball would not be passed to us “cause we were girls”.

We were not giving up any time soon and we would go up to the juniors and inspire them to carry on this fight (since the three of us were in our second last year). We got to know that the junior branch of our school had a girls football team, and it was sad to know that the senior branch could not do so. We got every girl we knew to come for practices to show the coach that we were serious about this, we would tackle the ball from the boys during matches to show them that we are capable of playing like them, if not better. Eventually a team was set up, in the year after we graduated.

The point of this whole story is to showcase how the behavior and words of men can patronize us, and make us question ourselves. There were instances when we would ponder over whether we should give up or not. But we realized that we cannot depend on men to eventually change their mindset, it is up to us girls to do that with our resolve and determination. It is on us to keep our head up high and never lose confidence in our passions and choices, just because a man tries to explain that we are incapable of those things.

Stay strong, girls! #stopmansplaining