DURBAN – As a young girl growing up, my experiences have taught me so much about life and have helped me find myself and made me who I am today. I grew up in a household of women, but that did not stop me from following my football passion.
My late mum and I used to watch every single football match. Sometimes she took me to the stadium when our favourite team played. All of that made me develop the love and passion I have for football, and it also made me appreciate the nature of football and understand that playing the game is also a decent career.
I always enjoyed watching football, even though I now watch the games alone. Having a discussion about the previous match is the best thing to do after a weekend of good football. However, that is still an issue for me as a female. In school, I used to be friends with a lot of girls, but whenever I felt so excited and want to talk about football, I sat with boys to start a conversation because the majority of the females did not understand the sport.
The challenge for me was that as the conversation went on and on, the topic of conversation changed just when we’re all starting to enjoy it and make fun of each other’s team. The guys would gang up on me and ask me all of these questions that made me feel less of a woman. They really knew how to make me feel inferior and doubted my knowledge for football. The guys really thought I was using my love for football to hide something. The guys would ask me questions like:
1. Are you a lesbian?
At that time I was too young to even know a definition of the word, nor had I been attracted to other girls in that way.
2. Are you watching football to please your dad?
Well this made me angry because I feel like men think that whatever we do as women we do with the intention to please them; I did not even live with my dad at that time.
3. How do you know so much about football?
“I am a person like you” was the only answer I could give them.
4. You only like football because your boyfriend does, right?
Whenever someone asks me this question I used to laugh, I loved football ever since I could remember, what does an eight or ten-year-old girl know about boyfriends?
5. We know boys love football; you girls just love football players right?
Even today this still makes me mad; I believe there is something so special about a woman who understands football, not because the players are attractive.’
Looking back, I remember when I met up with some sports journalists and told them about how I would love to be like them someday. They seem so surprised and offered me a chance to write for them, I was so excited until one of them suggested that I would only write whenever females are playing. I felt like they doubted my abilities and even today I am so disappointed about how women who understand sports are taken for granted, it says so much about gender equality.