Throughout history, women have had to climb metaphorical mountains, pushing boundaries in order to be granted all manner of rights. Basic, simple rights that should be enjoyed by everyone, men, women and children irrespective of creed or colour. Thankfully, over the years women have been gaining ground in this battle for equality.
Yet, for some strange reason, there is one right that has not been fully given to them and that is the right to kick a ball on a football pitch, without being mocked or jeered by those of the opposite sex, and even sadder, by those of their own sex. Added to this hurt, women are not awarded the same dues as male footballers. Yet, when women were needed to work in munition factories while men were away fighting in the Great War, their skills and strengths were not frowned on. It was in the factories, that women’s football teams sprang up after being dormant for a number of years.
In Britain, women’s football matches once attracted bigger crowds than most men’s games and there are even records of 50,000 spectators at one given match. How come today, the teams lack sponsoring? The simple answer is that men are afraid of women!
This fear was reflected when the FA banned women from playing football in their grounds on the 5th December 1921 saying that it was “quite unsuitable for females”. It is clear that certain activities can be deemed suitbale or unsuitable depending on how the wind blows.
Another fifty years were to go by before women’s football got back on its feet, when the FA lifted the ban. This is a key reason why it lags behind the men’s game, and not the fact that women are not as skillful at the sport as men are.
In a bid to prove this and gain equality, a group of women climbed Kilimanjaro in June 2017 to break the record of the highest altitude game of competitive football. This unique football match was organised by Equal Playing Field, a group set up by American Erin Blakenship and Laura Youngson to raise awareness about the lack of support for women’s sports.
The twenty-two women, from twenty nationalities, scaled almost 6,000 metres over a course of ten days, burdened not only with the necessary supplies for the trek, but also those required to set up a FIFA reglamented pitch. The women, who ranged from18 to 56, were all fit to playa ninety minute match at midday, in very thin air, after having risen at six am to scale the remaining metres. Despite the lack of oxygen at such a height, the twenty-two women broke the Guinness Book of Records for their feat.