An Inside Look at Oppression in Women’s Football

The stock of women’s football is on the rise. The British public began to take notice of the England women’s national team after their success in the 2015 FIFA World Cup, where they reached the semi-finals before being knocked out in a narrow defeat to Japan.

Eniola Aluko’s allegations of bullying and racial abuse against manager Mark Sampson has also received unprecedented media coverage, and ultimately forced the FA’s hand and he was removed from his position.

The significance of women’s football in society has come by leaps and bounds, but there is still a long way to go.

The oppression of female footballers and the lack of people taking their profession seriously still very much exists, as I found out from 21-year-old Katie Sorenson, a professional footballer for Coventry United LFC.

Sorenson found the motivation to work her way to where she is now through her love of the game, but her journey has not been straightforward.

“I went to my first game when I was about five, at that moment I started to want to play football in the school playground with the boys, but sadly they wouldn’t let me because they said I wasn’t good enough and I was a girl.”

Sorenson named her father as her main support network in her efforts to become a professional footballer – but her mother was less convinced that she would persevere and make her dreams reality.

“All the boys had the newest, flashy boots, and my Mum didn’t think I’d play for very long, she thought It’d only be a week then I’d give up. So I had some old hand-me-downs.”

She proved her doubters wrong and demonstrated that there is hope for budding female footballers if you’re willing to put in the work, but the hurdles that Sorenson had to overcome are all too familiar.

Despite England and Great Britain’s successes at major tournaments such as the World Cup and the Olympics, as well as EA Sports opting to include the women’s game in their FIFA franchise – it is still completely incomparable to men’s football.

The gap will likely remain, but there are those who are actively working to try and close the deficit. One of those is Coventry based freelance football journalist Hannah Roberts, who solely covers women’s football.

She earns a living writing about, and promoting, her beloved game – but even Roberts is frustrated by the lack of publicity the women footballers get in relation to their outstanding achievements.

“There’s not nearly enough people like myself within the industry who; a.) are writing about the game for reputable outlets and b.) are actively going out of their way to ensure the ladies’ game gets more of the spotlight.”

Roberts added that the expectations of people like herself are by no means unrealistic, she would merely like to see signs that things are moving in the right direction.

“We are not asking to be on par with men, that’s not realistic, we just want our fair share of the coverage.”

There are clearly figures within the game itself and the media reporting on it, in the local area, who have made it their goal to further publicise women’s football. For now, however, female footballers will remain in the shadow of their male counterparts.

 

Jamie Wilkinson

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