Written by Staff Writer
Emma Hayes is the head coach of Chelsea Ladies, currently in the third-placed tie in the Women’s English Premier League.
As any coach knows, there are several facets to coaching a women’s team, other than just giving them the physical fitness, speed and strength required to play as well as physically demanding forward lines.
I have become very passionate about the broader politics and economic considerations surrounding women’s football and the way in which we are seen to be two different and separate communities.
A former feminist, I know the argument in favor of keeping women’s football apart is based in many ways on discrimination and the idea that females are not the same breed as males.
Do men play football to have an orgasm at the end of the match?
In a meta-way, the argument is to be able to sell men’s football tickets and be able to justify paying men more for the same work. There is a perception that the players are in the men’s game and are directed to do things that they would never do with a man’s ball.
Although I am more or less prepared to concede that the players aren’t the same as men, the setup of the league has not allowed equality between the different teams to catch on in a comparable way to men’s football.
It is very likely that many supporters see the teams that they watch as perceived inferior to themselves in order to justify why they pay more. This is why players and the corporate backing of the game have been concerned with getting a better deal from the Premier League and thereby covering their cost more effectively.
I love women’s football. I love the passion, hard work and personality in these women and that is as much a part of the game as any asset that the players bring.
I feel that there is a cultural divide in our society, in particular our own culture. Which is why if you are going to start a campaign to speak up for women’s football, you start with your own team first.
Emma Hayes was previously in charge of the senior women’s soccer team in Canada.
There needs to be a change in how we look at women’s football and the attitudes and entertainment value associated with these teams. I do not think that it is fair and doesn’t resonate with the fans.
Rather than having a separation, why don’t we use the celebration of beauty and athleticism and bring that to men’s football?
The way in which the game is popularized within our culture is primarily by men. We view sex and sexuality so differently, yet we want to call it women’s sport. It is concerning as it does not create dialogue with the fans and help build the support and progression of the game as a whole.
I do not care how smart or resilient or tough a player is or isn’t, I am not offended that players are big, then thin, then strong, then thin. All that does is create a piece of media garbage. It does not prove anything and plays on negative perceptions of women and over generalizes how we are perceived.
At the beginning of the season, I asked the players for their photos so that I could look at them throughout the season. I found that it opened up the whole communication. Our level of detail and respect throughout is quite special in the men’s game but not quite the same in women’s football.
If we can learn to really listen to one another, play together and look out for each other, then we will get the same thing out of each other.
Here is an excerpt from Emma Hayes’ talk