Can girls make room for themselves in playground football matches?

“All the holidays, I had the ball and we played games. It was almost the World Cup for me.” In an FFF video ahead of the Women’s Football Euro in England, former international Alice Busaglia returns to her primary school yard in a sedan (Ardennes). While the 192 selected former midfielders for the France team often blend in with the boys, most young girls stay on the sidelines when a master or mistress agrees to drop a ball.

Have the lines shifted on the playing field since the Blues started their Euros against Italy on Sunday 10th July? In any case, the 2019 World Cup at clubs, held at home, increased the number of licensees: in March 2022, the FFF claimed about 200,000 registered players, of which 163,717 were active players, up from 141,279 a year earlier. What encourages young girls to take their place on asphalt courts?

Practices are changing, but gradually, note the teachers who responded to Franceinfo’s call for testimonials. The football field is not strictly closed to schoolchildren, who are increasingly trying to integrate the improved parts of the interclass. Separation between boys and girls, however, remains a heavy trend, confirmed Edith Maruzuls, a gender geographer, co-author of the UNICEF report and director of the research office at Larobe.

In the yard, can occupy land “Up to 80% of space”When it is privatized by only ten to twenty older boys. “You can see one or two girls play, but they are always the best.”The expert added that he has been working for more than ten years on equal distribution of space between girls and boys to be immersed in schools.

It’s impossible to determine the exact amount of ball-kicking schoolgirls ’share, but Val-et-Marne’s primary director confirmed the Elody trend. When he watches his students play, only a few rare girls participate in this ten-minute match. “They don’t seem to be very interested in playing football, they don’t seem to allow themselves. It could be associated with their representation of the game.”He says.

On the playground, children dream of Killian Mbappe. “It even appears in some school contacts”, Testified Edith Maruéjouls. Despite progress, “It’s difficult to identify high-level players for girls, who are role models at the media level and among personalities.”, Adds Jenner’s geographer. Lack of representation which may explain why girls do not try to impose themselves.

Sometimes goals are enhanced with clothes to symbolize, while they are not represented by trees, leisure football also has its own code. “The question is about the formation of teams, about the ‘leader’ of the ball, which is very controlled in children.”, The researchers observed. And in this highly controlled space, it is often individual performance that takes precedence: “Who is the best? Who scores the most?”

“Often it’s the biggest, strongest and most efficient people who play.”

Edith Maruzuls, Gender Geographer

at franceinfo

Forcing locks, some students are enterprising. “Once, one comes to school in Clite and shows that he is capable of playing. Others come after football uniforms. They are forced to show that they have a place.”Philip commented, “A teacher at an elementary school in C -te-d’Or

Once they join the ranks, finally their presence is no longer a problem. Nicole Aber, a former international in the 1960s, president of the Liberté aux Joueuses Association, a two-decade observer of girls’ place in football, acknowledged this evolution: “It’s normal for a girl to be able to play football today.”

“Girls are still an exception, but that exception is no longer an inconsistency.”

Nicole Aber, president of the Players’ Freedom Association

at franceinfo

Rejection, ridicule, “Tomboy” Probably less fuse than yesterday, when one girl looked at the ball too much for the taste of others. But the place they occupy on the ground is still in question. According to testimony collected by franceinfo, those who play remain “Engaged in defense or goalkeeping”. On the field, they have to have the mood to play high in attack. And when a girl scores, it’s amazing. “Roxanne laughs.

This teacher notes to only eight boys in a class of CM2 that they “Somewhat forced to play with the girls, otherwise it will make the teams too small”. On the other hand, when the 6th door is crossed, the improvements mentioned in the initial stage disappear. “In college, masculinity increases, boys want to find their place and participating in this sport can be scary which can be physical. Boys express their strength. In elementary school, less.”, Note Laurent, PE teacher at Wendy’s. An observation shared by Edith Maruzuls who remembers a college “Where some girls, although enrolled in the football department, did not practice the game during breaks between 2pm and 2pm.”

Finally, the place of girls on the playground raises questions, outside of the football field which still seems to be a visible example of a significant sharing. On their part, the FFF and the Ministry of National Education do not necessarily have the leadership to improve this non-assimilation of children. The two authorities assured franceinfo that no one paid much attention to the matter. So the work is done at the local level where several town halls, such as Trapez, Renaissance, La Roche-sur-Ion, Grenoble or Lyon are trying to renovate the school site.

Work has also been done on a school in Houilles (Yvelines), where the campus has been renovated to finish. “Avoid division between boys and girls and avoid clashes with football in particular”, Its director Madeleine * says. There are now three zones, created according to intensity: one for running, another for cool games and one zone for other games (without balls). “Students are no longer told to play football, so it proves that the world is possible without a ball.”, She is happy. In this redesigned course, frisbee or cat play (tied or frozen, according to it) all have their place.

According to Edith Maruéjouls, several ways can still be explored to improve the mix. You don’t answer You don’t answer: “Learn to share space, why not with a schedule. Work on layouts on the ground and set aside space for joint play.”An educational effort is also needed to develop a mindset: “We brought in a football coach who was in charge of the women’s section of the local club. Jury School Director Marie-Christine says. Thanks to him, some of the guys who are good at football have realized the benefits of playing ball with girls. “

Ultimately, despite having good intentions, teacher training will also be beneficial. “From kindergarten, it is up to the Ministry of National Education to take up the question by imposing training on teachers to ask them about their own representation and to make them aware of their role in reproducing stereotypes from generation to generation.”According to former international Nicole Aber. “We need to start all over again”, He insists hoping to avoid a draw.

* First name has been changed at the request of the person concerned

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