Children need to stop growing up with the belief that football is a gender-specific sport says Cerys McAdam

FOOTBALL creates many arguments – in the home and on the pitch. It is a sport that undoubtedly has a positive and negative impact on the world around us.

It is a sport that creates communities and competition internationally, but that may also promote violence and discourage gender equality.

Children worldwide will grow up with football, if not in the home, then in education and social groups. This means that children are almost guaranteed to hear that boys play football and girls do not.

Is football in schools just another way of creating a sexist world or does it do the opposite and promote gender equality and inclusion on the playground?

We send children to school with the aim that they will be educated. We choose schools by looking at Ofsted reports, league tables and past performance, and we go to open days to ensure that our children are being taught by educators that we deem suitable and reliable.

We look at the building to ensure that the school has passed safety inspections and gaze over the playground to check that there are no broken swings hidden behind an untrimmed bush.

We do all this because education is crucial.But let’s pause our gaze at the playground for a second longer: is it as suitable for learning as the classrooms are? It should be. Children, particularly those that are young and likely to spend time on the swing set, learn so much more than the national curriculum during the 9am-3pm weekdays.

They learn values that will stay in their brain to be applied in their future work in years to come; values like teamwork, fairness and determination.

But do they also learn how to be sexist? Well, sometimes. Picture this: the kids have been well behaved, and so they are rewarded an extra five minutes of playtime.It takes only one person to say that the girls shouldn’t play because that’s what the sports channels have taught them, for that thought to become permanently lodged in the back of their head for years to come too.

Worcester News:

Children are undoubtedly much more susceptible to the world around us than we are. If they have no one to teach them that football is for both genders and is an activity that has positive impacts, then they’ll listen to that one person telling them the opposite.

Football is not a gender-specific sport because that is not a thing. This illusion comes from sports channels showing only men’s football and putting male footballers on the front of magazines because male football has the budget to do that through betting and financial investment.

However, we can’t avoid the fact that large progress within women’s football, at club and international levels, has been made in recent years.

As a society, we have a responsibility to educate children, boys and girls, as best we can about the positive impact that football can have on the world around us.

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Internationally speaking, football creates communities, promotes physical and mental fitness and encourages competition. Why would this be any different on the playground? Children learn through other people and activities like football. The world of football is based on competing: the whole aim is to win against rival teams, and this may be why some adults discourage the sport, especially to their “weak and fragile” daughters.

But competition is good for children. The workplace is built on competition and that knowing how to deal with losing is another beneficial life skill that the classroom won’t directly teach them.

Children need to stop growing up with the belief that football is a gender-specific sport. Within educational environments, they are likely to learn this, and it is our job as a society to educate both genders on the benefits of football.

It promotes competition and fitness and, in discouraging girls to play, our society is discouraging gender equality and putting girls at a disadvantage. Let’s stop that.

• Cerys McAdam, aged 17, lives in Evesham and is studying for A levels at Worcester Sixth form College.