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What It's Like To Be A Female Playing in an All Men's League

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I joined what was originally called “Adult Soccer League” but is now referred to as “Men’s League” at the beginning of the summer. The reason it’s called Men’s League is simple… only men play. Out of the 100 players in the league, 96 are male and 4 are female. I’m 20 years old playing with a variety of men aging from 18-60.

I have been playing soccer all my life and once I reached the age of 18, joining our county’s Men’s League never crossed my mind because, of course, it’s male dominated. Being a woman in a man’s territory, there are obvious imbalances and patriarchal situations that are sadly, very prevalent.

One of my older friends who also had a rich history with soccer, played in Men’s League for a season. Intrigued, I began watching her games to see how a young female would flourish (or if she wouldn’t) in a male dominated sports game.

There are certain male stereotypes that were confirmed just after watching her first game. Men are more aggressive in this league. They aren’t afraid to yell at one another. They use foul language and take things VERY seriously, even if it’s just a summer scrimmage.

Fast forward to my rising senior summer. I have one season left and to amplify my outside training for preseason, I decided to push my limits and join the men’s teams. With this league being male driven, I thought this would honestly build my character. I am the only female on my team, and our first game was last weekend. What occurred was not shocking, but definitely raised red flags.

For starters, I was substituted the most out of all the players… even the 55-year olds who could not run. I tried to not let it bother me, but what was most infuriating was that anytime I would make a mistake, I was immediately taken out.

Throughout the game, the referee made himself very clear by jogging over to me every 15 minutes to check if I was doing okay. “How you doing?” “You doing okay?” “Everything going well?” I mean… you cannot make this up.

Later in the game, a 22-year-old was shielding the ball from me and as I tried to take it away, I ended up losing my balance and tripping over my own feet. The whistle blew immediately and aggressively as the ref ran towards us. The foul was called against my opponent, although he did nothing illegal. I was looked at as a baby lamb as my opponent was a lion.

As the clock ticked on, the times where I completed a play, delivered a great ball, or out ran a player, my teammates loved to use the phrase, “Good girl!”

GOOD GIRL.

All these occurrences are demeaning. I could have been the best player on that pitch yet, I still am looked at as vulnerable, emotional, untrusting, and, honestly, pathetic. Being a woman on a male dominated field is microscopic to the world’s issues facing men and women inequality. These inequalities are unfair, uncalled for, and deliberately offensive.

Being a woman on a male dominated field is microscopic to the world’s issues facing men and women inequality.

I look at myself in this situation and see all the wrong. However, I put myself here for a reason. I WANT to represent women. I WANT to show that although a man can be strong, women can be stronger. We have a force. We have a presence. I mean after all… the United States soccer team isn’t represented by the men, it’s the women. The men didn’t even qualify for the last Men’s World Cup, while the women WON theirs and are continuing on that road as we speak.

The future is female.

The little representations of women in fields varying from work to sports is what is going to change this world and bring awareness to inequalities to not just gender, but other differences this world struggles with as well. The future is female, and I am taking any initiatives, like standing up to 96 men, to make sure that happens.