I am slightly divided on the sexism debate. As a keen female footballer and a fan of the male game, I think it would be great to see females merge into the game. Hope Powell and Kelly Smith are huge ambassadors for the female game, showing what talent and ability women have in football. Some would suggest women don’t have enough experience to join the male game in management. I don’t agree.
Powell has been in charge of the England women’s team since 1998 when she was appointed as the first female and the youngest ever national coach. In 148 games in charge, only 42 of them have been lost. In 2003 she became the first woman to achieve the UEFA Pro Licence – the highest coaching award available and was awarded for her outstanding efforts in 2010 by the queen when she was appointed a CBE. Her most recent accolade was her appointment as the head coach of the female GB Olympic squad, alongside Stuart Pearce who’s in charge of the men.
If that isn’t experience, what is? Yes, I agree the male and female game differs. The female game is slower, less aggressive and less skilful but scientifically, females are physically weaker than men and therefore they cannot be expected to perform at the same level. But they have passion, commitment and determination; the true qualities of football. I’ve seen many female football matches, including 4 FA Cup finals, (Arsenal featuring in 3 of them) and i felt the same excitement as I did watching the male game. Powell has the core ability of a football manager. She can adjust her tactics to any opponent whilst making her team perform consistently over consecutive seasons – a quality of Sir Alex Ferguson’s. I’m not saying she could become a Premier League manager, but with that much experience in FOOTBALL, (not ‘women’s football’ or ‘men’s football’) surely she could make an impact in one of the men’s football leagues. If I was a director of a league 1 or 2 side and I could appoint a new male manager with full qualifications but no experience at elite level or Hope Powell, a female manager with full qualifications and experience within football, I’d choose the latter. Judd Evans, an aspiring football manager, said on twitter “if they can do the job why shouldn’t they be allowed to do it.” Sarah James commented, “There shouldn’t be anything to stop women managing. If they have the knowledge, then why not? Some men haven’t played the game & manage.” I fully agree.
Liam Trevatt gave his views on women managing in the English men’s leagues, “A woman would not be able to control & motivate 30 odd blokes in the changing rooms.” I take this point. I think it would be very difficult for women to motivate men in the way Arsene Wenger or Martin Oneil can. However, motivation is not about aggression. A woman doesn’t need to ‘pump up’ the men. Surely, they all share the same passion, the same goal: to win. The men can take that passion and turn it into aggression or motivation. It’s a difficult task but who says it can’t be achieved?
Jay Gorasia felt “it’s something that will take time. It will only take one quality female manager to change players’ minds.” I couldn’t agree more with Jay. I think the media have the biggest influence on the public perception of females within football. If a successful female manager wins over the support of the media: job done. The main reason why female football is behind to the male game is the fact they simply don’t get enough media coverage. Yes, there is the argument that people won’t want to watch it as it’s not as good as male football but I’ve already given my view on that point. I don’t think swimming is as exciting to watch as football but I still watch it. Because I enjoy watching all kinds of sports. Women’s football is just another kind of sport. Even if it is different to the men’s game, it’s still exciting in its own way.
Claire Headridge stated “The issue isn’t just with football; it’s with sport in general.” I think it’s fair to say, Claire is right. Women’s sport often follows in the shadow of men’s and again, this is because the media and the public have an obsession with comparing the qualities of the two genders. Can’t we accept that there are two different sports? Cycling and swimming have really taken off in recent years for the women and they can now be considered on an equal platform with the men. This is partly due to the nature of the sport and the success they’ve achieved. Unlike football, where there are so many varied elements to the game, swimming and cycling have the same structures for females and males. But the females are slower and less powerful than the male cyclists and swimmers yet they still remain an exciting spectacle. This provides some encouragement for the future of female sport.
Considering all the arguments, I think it will take some time before females will be introduced to the male game. As a fan of the male game, I appreciate there are differences, but if a female has experience in management of some sort, give her a go in a different kind of management and see if she can transfer her skills to the male game. Yes, there will always be a question of respect towards females in management, but that will be something that will have to be tested rather than talked about if there is to be any real argument. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how the female and male game evolves in the next decade.