By Sheshu Babu*
While the euphoria of men’s football World Cup has drawn to a close with France becoming champion, there has been little focus on women’s football. Sports — like cricket, football or hockey — is primarily dominated by men. The tournaments and world cup matches played by men are sponsored, telecast and viewed regularly, while women playing these sports are rarely telecast due to less viewing and sponsors reluctant to participate.
In an article, Bachu S (“We hate football and don’t follow FIFA World Cup, said no woman ever”, published 15 July 2018, newindianexpress.com) points out, “…Blatant indifference and sexist attitude towards women’s love for the game has gained momentum even as an audience measurer by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) says that women make up nearly half of the 100 million World Cup 2018 viewers across India.”
The article cites the feelings of Krupa N Sangma, an All-India Football Federation (AIFF)-accredited football referee and a former player, who says that it is the mindset of a majority of men that they know better about the game than women, which is the root cause of such ostracization.
She also says that men think that they know all about the game. They like to talk about it but do not listen to what women have to say. They think that world cup and foreign leagues are something beyond women’s comprehension and understanding.
Girls and women who wish to pursue the sport face hindrances from their families. As Krupa feels, women’s football is not supported by AIFF. The body has to spend a lot more on them, considering the fact that many female players are fighting objections at home to presume career as a professional footballer. Very few people know players like Bela Devi or Bembem Devi or there is a top tier league in the country.
Awareness and integration
Society should encourage women footballer and their pursuance of the sport. They must be given time to practice, allowing them to use the same football field used by men. They should be cheered by all just like men. Integration, not segregation should be the solution of the society.
‘Captains of today, leaders of tomorrow’ was the title of a two-day workshop held in Moscow for the captains of U-20 teams qualified for FIFA women’s World Cup to be held in France this August ( fifa.com, 28 Jun 2018). “One of the challenges in women’s football is the lack of role models for young girls”, said FIFA chief women’s football officer Sarai Baremen.
Indian women football team must be given full facilities to perform well. Unfortunately, both men and women football teams have not been cleared for Jakarta Asian games. If men’ s football team is in a pathetic state, one can imagine the plight of women’s football.
A lot of effort is required to lift women’ s football in India. Social acceptance, provision of facilities, decent payment on par with male players and promotion on media etc go a long way in encouraging women pursuing football as a career in sports.
*Writer from anywhere and every where, inspired by people’s poets like Gaddar (Telugu), and novelists Premchand (Hindi) and Jean Paul Sartre (French)