Wednesday, July 21, 2010

All girls should play football (or some team sport)

When my older brother joined a football team in Kindergarten, I was jealous that he got to play and that I had to wait 2 more years to join an official team (1st grade was when the girls teams started in my hometown).  Much of my time growing up was spent on a football field.  Playing football taught me about teamwork and not quitting, gave me confidence, and introduced me to many friends. Iwould like to say that I also developed superstar skills, however I was okay - which I'm very happy with. 

About 6 months after moving to German, I started playing football again.  And again, the sport helped me in many ways...  improving my German language skills, making friends, meeting very cute guys, and staying in shape.*  Playing football also helped me establish myself as an equal amongst the guys in the "old boys network" at work, which still very much exists in Germany (football in Germany is the equivalent to golfing in the US).

Arriving in Germany, I was surprised to learn that very few German females play (or like) football or any team sport.**  However, German females are a group which could benefit most from the lessons of football.  In the German workplace, the stereotype of a female is someone who is delicate, emotional, and unable to make competent decisions. Few females in Germany advance to management because of this stereotype.  Of the female managers, the majority (at my company) are ex-pats who present themselves as feminine, yet tough, and capable of competent decision making.  They understand how to get along with men and women, and foster teamwork... All skills learned in football.  Ironically, almost all grew up playing team sports and still participate in our company's annual football competition.  These female managers are often very respected.

While growing up, there were many times I didn't appreciate football... times when my parents had to drag me kicking to practices.  Now looking back, I'm very appreciative that my parents let/made me play football. All kids, especially little girls, should play football.  This will better set them up for success later in life.

*Running for 2 hours x 2-3 times/week does wonders for the figure.  And there is no chance to be lazy and miss a work-out as your teammates will force you to attend the next practice (or guilt trip you into it).

**The typical German female deeply dislikes football and other team sports.  If their is a spoting event on TV, they will often criticize it (and those watching it) and then ask that the channel be changed. Many only watch a football match during the EuroCup or World Cup.  Artsy things are promoted more amongst females in Germany.

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