Nataly Castro, defender, and Gianina Castro, forward. Photo from El Heraldo online
When I recently read a news article about women’s soccer in Barranquilla, my excitement over seeing the article about the potential creation of a women’s soccer league in Colombia quickly changed to disappointment because the writer’s language was completely disempowering.
The opening paragraph has a series of quotes, exclamations of on-field directions that soccer players yell to one another to direct the ball and their teammates. Right after that, it read (translation mine), “The sounds were sharp, delicate, but forceful. Based on the terminology used, one would think it was a men’s game, but no, they are women that play and understand soccer perfectly.” It goes on in the next paragraph, “This comment that ‘women know nothing about soccer’ is being ordered to clean up. Female soccer has been taking force in our country, to the point that these days they are already thinking about creating a professional league, a utopic idea until recently.”
Ahhhh! Reading this drove me crazy! The more I re-read it and try to formulate my thoughts into coherent written sentences, the more irritated I am about it and the less articulate I am becoming. Let me breathe a second…
I do, of course, have a different cultural perspective. Presumably the writer of the piece, William González Badillo, grew up around here (or at least in this country) and was raised in this machismo culture. I myself grew up on a soccer field in the US with 21 other women, all of whom were yelling concise directions bluntly at one another. I’ve been witnessing this firsthand for at least 25 years. Still, the language of the article is important.
What if instead it read, “These are the typical sounds on the soccer field amongst players who know what they’re doing. Female soccer has been taking force in our country, and the women on this field are excited about the prospects of a women’s professional league being created.” Then it could have continued to highlight the strengths of the women at the game in question and what each of them would bring to a professional league, followed by the meat of the article which was about the financial implications of a professional league and who’s currently involved in getting it started. This is the article I would have loved to have read. Instead, González frames up the idea of a professional league as nearly impossible.