In a Word. . . Gender

 

Remember the furore last month over the Republic of Ireland’s international women’s soccer team. The shame, the shame. Player Aine O’Gorman spoke of “getting changed in public toilets of airports on the way to matches, being given our kit there”.

Another player Karen Duggan explained how between September 2015 and 2016 “we would have taken over and above 40 days (off work). Some girls are taking this as unpaid leave, some are taking as holiday leave. If you look at some of the figures associated with that, they’re huge. It’s maybe two months’ wages out of your 12 months are sacrificed and that’s been going on. We’ve received no reimbursements for six years now.”

All while FAI chief executive John Delaney was swanning it over in Helsinki arranging his successful election to Uefa’s executive committee thus adding more than €100,000 to his current €360,000 salary, plus a €300-a-day allowance when he is on federation business. Bless my sweet soul!

Thankfully matters have been resolved to the satisfaction of the women soccer players. But . . .

Why do we have a Republic of Ireland women’s international soccer team? Why similarly in Gaelic, rugby, hockey? Any team sport you like? Why do we have women’s tennis? Or athletics? Why just women’s sport at all? Why should there be this rigid divide between women and men in sport?

It is no longer tolerated in education, health care, any of the professions or trades, yet I have yet to hear a single voice say it is wrong. And don’t give me “the fairer sex” argument. If women can lead men in our Defence Forces they can compete with them on a sportsfield.

Here is former colleague Andy Pollak writing after the Slovakia/Republic of Ireland match in Tallaght last month.

The women were “fast, skilful, determined and take no prisoners in the tackle. Katie McCabe was particularly outstanding – a marvellously gifted dribbler and forceful right-winger, who if she were a man would certainly be an ever-present in Martin O’Neill’s team. Denise O’Sullivan is a stylish and tigerish midfielder. Stephanie Roche of that “overhead flick and volley” goal of world renown is the main threat up front.”

So less of this gender nonsense in sport. It shouldn’t be tolerated there either.

Gender from Middle English, Middle French gendre, genre, Latin gener-(stem of genus) meaning kind or sort.

inaword@irishtimes.com

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