A still from the movie Bend It Like Beckham.

Yes, i play football! No, i’m not a guy.

When i was in 7th grade, some of us girls began to play a lot of football with the boys of our class. Thankfully, we had uniforms that allowed us to fall over, kick a ball and do splits in the air! It was tons of fun and we would eagerly wait for lunch hour to go chase a round object. At some point in time i got injured and was wobbling around until my father took me to the army hospital in Chennai. After an inspection the slightly-scary doctor asked me how i hurt my leg. Nonchalantly came my reply – “Football!” (i was mighty proud of myself!) 

His response is etched in my memory. “Football? Girls don’t play football! It’s a rough sport!” 

At this point the doctor sounded like Mrs. Bhamra from the movie Bend It Like Beckham –

” What family would want a daughter-in-law who can run around kicking football all day but can’t make round chapatis?” 

My 11 or 12 year old self wanted to say a lot of things in retort, but instead i took my prescription and getting into the car thought to myself  – “There is NO way i’m quitting football…” 

What i’m trying to say is, we grow up with notions that girls have to play “safe sports” like volleyball and throw ball that are associated with femininity.

While on this subject we cannot ignore the other social stigma – that if you’re a boy you  HAVE to play a sport. ANY SPORT.

While growing up a cousin of mine preferred to spend his summer drawing Veronica and Betty in different outfits and poses rather than playing a sport. I was young then (even younger than 11) and didn’t understand why a boy didn’t want to play a sport. Aren’t boys supposed to love sports?. It was all very confusing. I am pretty sure i thought my cousin was “less masculine” and it was not okay.

In retrospect, i feel terrible for the way i judged my cousin and i am sure other boys and girls go through a hard time when it comes to choosing a sport or not choosing a sport. Can you think of any incident where you might have judged someone in a similar fashion? Are you playing a sport because you HAVE to? Would you have chosen to play a different sport if you didn’t feel so pressured by others? Think about it or better still, write about it!





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