Saturday, June 09, 2007


One of the things I find astounding about football is that no matter how poor or tiny the settlement, a village will clear space for a pitch. So through mud-spattered glass on our bus, as we wended our way north in Brazil, you could see the muddy pitch and the clearing with dirty white goalposts. Costa Rica was the same - Sunday in Puerto Viejo, people made the effort to head out to watch the Sunday league, which they chose to do despite the beautiful beaches and snorkelling they could have visited instead. Malawi was the same. Any clear space in a village or small town was always the football pitch - you knew it before you even saw the white of the posts.

Not once did I see women playing. Not that they don't, per se, but I saw none. They do so much physical work in Malawi that I really would be surprised if they had the energy, or perhaps more likely, time for themselves is such a scarcity that it is treasured, and not to be expended on running around like idiots. I'd thought about bringing a ball with me, but thought it was perhaps too big and not necessarily appropriate. But I really, really wish I had.

This is because I'm all about women playing sport. It makes you feel powerful and positive. You begin to view your body as a tool, and consider how it works and feels, rather than how it looks. Which is not something that I think many women really get to experience outside of sport. In the gym, I only really think running or perhaps a martial art can have the same effect. This has all been spawned by the 7-a-side tournament we played today, where my team won our group but sadly lost in the semi-finals, to a great team, despite us really having the better chances - they had one good player who did two good things - scored twice. The women on our team and others were happy, confident, and it was fun. And, as the worst team in the league, we caused a few surprises, a true underdog story. No, really.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You should write a story about this! It sounds fantastic. Glad to know you're back and in the game. Love.