Today, I am going to talk about my dream of women being in football and making a history. I can see, your mind is now beginning to imagine,'Has this girl gone crazy?' Well, maybe.
But football is love. All my childhood was spent on closing myself in 4 walls of a room. I always dreamt of running fast in a gargantuan space where I will be playing with a ball and when I reach the goal, everyone will shout with 'GOALLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!'
But alas! I am still here stuck at my laptop ranting about not being able to play football. But today, I am sharing this dream of mine so that you help me to progress by supporting me. So, are you there to support me?
If you really want to help me, then please first start by encouraging girls and women around you even if it comprises of only one, fight for her. Tell her to open up and figure out what is creating a barrier to follow her dream of being a footballer. Break the barrier and be an inspiration to the women who follow their dream and passion.
Women should be given more space to follow their passion. Even if it means football, they should be given more and more opportunities to develop themselves and set a history for their nation. It feels so romantic to think of women sitting at home and cooking dishes for their husbands and children. But we should change that since women cannot only make contribution at home, but also to the community, nation and the world. It will only happen if we believe in their dreams and passion. football is one of the most popular female sports, with some 30 million girls and women playing it worldwide, according to football-governing body FIFA. So, it is not about whether the girls and women are involved with football or not. Whether their dream as a footballer makes them smarter than men is not a concern anymore. Rather, we should figure out what are the barriers they are facing following their passion.
Women of different countries face different barriers and considering them will definitely take centuries, but that doesnt mean we should avoid considering it. For example, a football from Somalia face the death threat, a woman from Iran face the threat from religious fundamentalism affecting her religious sentiments and the list goes on. If we cant make their journey and struggle easier, it will not impossible but difficult for them. But who are we to create so many barriers on their progress and contribution to the nation?
Now, I am going to show you the scenerio of the female footballers in Bangladesh. Bangladesh played their first game on January 29, 2010 against Nepal, in the South Asian Federation Games 2010, losing 1-0. They also played against three other countries, winning two games and losing one, notoriously 7-0 against India. Their latest games were the 2014 Women's Asian Cup Qualifiers against Thailand, Iran and the Philippines, losing them all, having 15 goals against without scoring one and left out of the Asian Cup and 2015 Women's World Cup, to be held in Canada from 6 June to 5 July 2015. he Bangladeshi team took home the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup for the first time by defeating India 1-0 in the final match on 24 December 2018 at the Bir Shreshtha Shaheed Sepoy Mostafa Kamal Stadium in Kamalapur, Dhaka.
There is only women's national association football team of Bangladesh with Sabina Khatun serving as the Captain. Moreover, there are quite a few female-oriented football clubs founded in Bangladesh, which is quite disheartening for many more women to follow their passion. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) provided the BFF 2.2 lakh [Tk 1.7 crore] US dollars to host the six-team Group C Qualifiers but the BFF needs another Tk 50 lakh to complete the 13-day competition in Dhaka. This budget does not include expenditure for the Bangladesh team. They spent Tk 15,000-20,000 per day behind the Bangladesh U-16 team and team management for food while they were paying Tk 2 lakh for the accommodation and food for a 31-member foreign squad per day. This explains the inequality that persists in the football association that struggle to provide a platform for girls under 16 to follow their passion. So the question still stays in our mind, is football a boy's or girl's game?
We hope that extraordinary leaders like Fatma Samoura and Lyida Nsekera, as the executive board members of FIFA can change the the history to make football not only a sports for men, but also girls and women around the world, especially in a developing country like Bangladesh. Moreover, many scholarships and articles have been published explaining how female as football players have to face medical consequences on the field due to the football only. So, my request to all the girls who follow their passion of playing football, is not to pay any attention to that since it does not really solve rather create a barrier for you to follow your passion. Rather, girls and women like you should look out for ways to empower ourselves and them economically to improve their contribution as a female footballer to a nation and their well-being.
Rachel Allison of Mississippi State University says in response to the challenges faced by the girls in Europe,
'Just to say that girls need to be more persistent, that they need to lean in, that can't be the solution, it can't be an individual-level solution to a social, structural problem. This is a feminist struggle.'