In the wake of the FIFA Women’s World Cup final between USA and the Netherlands, we thought it was a pretty good (and crucial) time to write about the importance of supporting women athletes and sports.
Athletics and sports in general have always had a valuable socio-cultural experience for both men and women, but is also the ideal way to increase awareness about gender equality. Women’s participation in sports has a long history, and is marked by division and discrimination. But it is also filed with major accomplishments by female athletes around the world, which has brought important advances for equality as well as empowering women and girls.
The list of women that have made headlines due to their athletic achievements is exhaustive. Helen Madison for example, was the first woman to swim the 100-yard freestyle in one minute during the 1932 Olympics, Tegla Loroupe was the first African woman to ever win a major marathon, and over the years women have taken up top leadership positions in Olympic Committees, coaching, managing, becoming official sports journalists etc.
But it’s important to remember that all of these achievements were not handed easily to them. Women in the sports industry faced a lot of barriers of discriminations for being too weak to play sports, not healthy enough, or fast enough.
There are however so many benefits for women and girls to practice sports, whether in a recreational or professional way. The biggest being the growth of equality between the two genders, but there are also studies that show that sports is very beneficial for our health. Data suggests that women can get a lot of health benefits from an active lifestyle. It can also prevent a lot of diseases, especially when sports are picked up at a young age.
Which is what brings me back to the topic of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, one of the most publicised women’s sports tournament in the world. Other than for pure entertainment and sportsmanship, there are also a lot of reasons why you should be supporting and watching the World Cup.
For one, these teams contain some of the best athletes in the world, as well as some new rising stars which you’ll want to see grow throughout the years. The tournament is also a great one to watch with young girls that are aspiring to become athletes themselves.
Many of the players and teams are also fighting against pay inequality, and enduring a systemic sexism in their federations. It is also worth mentioning that the most decorated women’s player in the world this year is Ada Hegerberg, a Norwegian athlete who was given the first-ever female Ballon D’or (an award given out to the top payers.)
There are also a number of initiatives around the world that are being implemented to give girls the chance to become leaders, improve their confidence and increase their self-awareness in the football industry which can be very beneficial for teenage girls to think about their future and grow as a person.
For example, there is a project in Kenya on football in rural areas where teenage girls are asked to be referees in official tournaments, or in Zambia, there is a project called Go Sisters! which aims to empower girls through sports by training them to become leaders, providing them with scholarships and involve them in big decision making.
There is absolutely no question whether or not it’s good or bad to support women’s sports and we believe that watching the FIFA Women’s World Cup is a great place to start. Sports has always been able to bring people together and help equality throughout the world.
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