One pair of pink cleats and a ponytail and our little girl was ready to play co-ed football. Our 6 year diva daughter recently asked to try flag football. Known for her love of sparkles and all things girly this request certainly came as a surprise. Faced with the difficult position of having already green lighted her older brother’s participation we could not in good conscience say no to her request to also try it out. We found a five week clinic that was co-ed football. We thought this would be a good way for her to learn, since she never once threw a football previously.
The First Day
On the first day, we arrived bright and early (big coffees in hand for mom and dad) to meet the coaches and fellow players. Other boys and girls were also arriving but as we turned right towards the football field every other girl went left towards the soccer field. The thought that this might be a possibility never occurred to me. This was when my husband and I began to worry and quietly whisper between us how to handle her questions to come.
It turns out there would be only one question, “Am I the only girl?”.
I bent down ready for whatever came next and responded that it looked that way. A moments pause and she replied “OK.” and sauntered onto the field. That was it..no drama..no worry..no tears. But how would the fellas handle this development over the coming weeks together?
A Member of the Team
My answer may surprise you. NOTHING happened! None of the boys appeared to care one bit. Our girl was treated exactly the same as every other player. They included her the same as every other teammate with NO exceptions. She wasn’t treated like a delicate doll either. She was passed to, she was equal fodder to be knocked down and have her flag taken and she was high fived when she had a good catch or play. The two male coaches were encouraging, helpful and did what they came to do..teach ALL the kids. After each lesson ended, she would walk over and say goodbye to one coach in particular. He got down to her level, smiled huge and said the same thing each time.
“Great effort today, you’re tough and I’m looking forward to seeing you next week.”
We talk about teaching equality to the next generation. The need for equal pay for equal work, that girls can do anything boys can do. As women and mothers we sometimes feel that we still have some work to do in this arena. I think though ladies, that times they are a changing! My daughter wants to move onto something else now-possibly cheerleading. Our job is to encourage our children (boys and girls alike). Everyone should get a chance to try what they are interested in and be supported in believing they have a right to the same as everyone else. Whether it’s to play football, cheer or both! If we express our feelings of acceptance and inclusiveness our children will hopefully grow up feeling that this is the right thing too.
For every girl bravely and confidently lacing those cleats and every boy standing beside her as her team mate we move further in equality. This becomes the expected normal. As the
famous sign with Rosie the Riveter depicts “we can do it”..one field at a time.
Guest Contributor Janet Richardson grew up in Indiana. She said goodbye to snow boots and hello to sandy toes when her family moved to Tampa Bay 3 years ago. Janet has been married for 8 years to her amazing British best friend and partner in crime. She is also blessed to be mom to an 8 year old philosopher and 6 year old diva. Janet is a crafting addict and CEO of the International house of Richardson (stay at home mom). She never met a beach, morning cup of coffee or Netflix mystery series she didn’t want to get to know better.