Wednesday, 24 October 2012

passion is at the root of determination

It is with a heavy heart that I begin to write this.

And yet I know with unwavering conviction that as the words slowly unfold on this page, each tiny letter collaborating with another and gaining ascendancy over the last, gently encouraging the next expanding word, that their strength will grow and so too will my determination.

It has been an evening of contrasting emotions - elation, trepidation, triumphalism, anxiety, joy and then utter, utter sadness. As dusk collapsed into darkness an inspiring movement, a thing of absolute beauty took to the heights with aplomb, riding the horse latitude with confidence only to stutter and stagnate in the face of the doldrums.

 A new beginning was within touching distance for the Scotland's women's national football team. So agonisingly close. And then the trade winds of Spain reversed and cooled and blew defiantly in the opposition's favour.

We crashed to the earth alongside them, not as a nation of people from Scotland but as a union of women, breathing as one, willing the empowerment of one another, collapsing deftly to the ground in unison. Fortunately, we fell on solid ground. It can take our weight and we can stretch our wings and fly again.

With passion there comes determination and a will to push disappointment to the side and battle on. In women's football the players and coaches have next to no financial support and resources, the girls endure scathing attacks on the game as a craft, on their personal skill and capabilities as footballers and as if that’s not enough they have to listen to the ridiculously boring and unfortunately enduring notion that they are women trying to be men.

That inaccurate picture clouds the real vision. In women’s football there is talent and passion in abundance. It is an enviable mix. So much so, that this potent combination led to the banning of the women’s game in the UK in 1921. Excuses were unfurled but the message was simple, with crowds of tens of thousands attending women’s matches the position of men in society was being challenged. Instead of embracing something strong and admirable they chose to try and destroy it. Bizarrely, given the game’s success how the authorities couldn’t envisage the defiance that followed is a mystery.

It's a cliché, an overused boring anecdote that football is more than a game, but when it comes to the women's game it is exactly that. It's a drive to succeed, a commitment to achieve and a will to challenge the world to wake up to itself and its outdated idiosyncrasies and inadequacies and make space for the girls.

Women have been playing football for at least as long as men, from as far back as the 1700s in Scotland. In the 19th century, Lady Florence Dixie, a curious and extraordinary Scot with a desire to make the world an equal place for women, formed a women's football team, its objective to use the sport as a means to create opportunities for women in a tense Victorian society soldered together with gender bias and gross unfairness and inequality. With her captain, the aptly named Nettie Honeyball in tow, Lady Florence’s team, comprised of middle class 'ladies' began a campaign that continues, albeit on a different platform with a different agenda, to this day. A diverse agenda, but the similarities are there. It is still about empowerment.

Anna Signeul’s Scotland team, and the Glasgow City FC’s of this country, aren’t openly brandishing banners depicting their call for equal rights but their determination to create equal opportunities are just as blatant and exciting. The understanding of what the women’s game is and what it is quite spectacularly trying to achieve, is becoming clearer thanks to their commitment.

Women aren't trying to be men; that notion has gone beyond laughable. It’s just downright annoying. They are playing women's football, with WOMEN being the operative word. They are strong, independent individuals who collectively epitomise the fight for a new beginning. They may have been grounded for now but this is their game, and our resolve carried by their skill, talent and knowledge will generate the passion and determination to allow us all to continue to grow.

There isn’t just a tomorrow, there is also a today. The struggle continues. And my goodness, isn't it just fabulous to watch.


  1. I prefer woman's football,it seems devoid of the hysteria and misguided tribelism that the men's game seems to thrive on, or not if attendance figures are to be believed. Football has never been my sport, my Dad hated the language of the terrace and the sectarianism, but even an old synic like me can enjoy a wee written blog:-) I love cricket and believe me woman's cricket is on a high at moment and being properly funded and ran by those who love the game. Hopefully football will realise idolising this overpaid pampered bunch of underachievers we call male professional footballers is making a farce of football in the UK

  2. Little by little the women's game has been making inroads. Very soon those tiny steps will be seen to be of extraordinary importance.