Breaking gender barriers in sport – Laura Chow

Breaking gender barriers in sport

The first day I went to training for American football I was so nervous. I almost bailed and got off the bus before the stop at Sports Park Weetwood several times. I was worried about being a girl playing the sport in a male team; that the guys  would be unwelcoming or judge me. However, as soon as I arrived and started playing, I realised I couldn’t have been more wrong.

My teammates treated me as equally as if I had been any man who’d walked onto the pitch and were supportive, friendly and kind. I was expected to be as fast and strong and to hit as hard as the rest of the men. There was no special treatment just because I’m female. To me this was exhilarating as it forced me to challenge myself and push myself harder. Training could be exhausting at times, but the tough times bonded us all and the team have become like brothers to me. We all look out for each other and encourage each other regardless of gender or anything else.

“I think sometimes people perceive men to be more sexist than they actually are and assume they will look down on women who try to play sports seen as typically “male”. “

Sadly, in some occasions, this can be the case. However, I can honestly say I have not found this while playing on the team and to believe that men in general are sexist or that their attitude to women playing sport is sexist, is wrong. Never once was I made to feel different, and the level of support everyone gives to each other on the team is really inspiring.

I have been proud and honoured to be a member of the American football team and have come to love playing a sport I would never have thought of playing before uni. I can honestly say joining, despite my gender or whatever people may think of it, has been one of the best decisions I have made this year. Gender should not be a barrier to sport.

Laura