Football—A Game That Connects Us All
Updated: Nov 18, 2018
I told you I would be sitting in my comfy hotel bed beaming with excitement after meeting wonderful young reporters from all around the world. I never thought about the logistics of getting together a group of 16 people all from different countries, it is actually quite hilarious, and we had so much to talk about.
After I arrived at the hotel, scaring my roommate Clara at 3:30 in the morning and immediately jumping in the shower, I went to sleep by 4:00 a.m. and was up by 8 for breakfast and a bus to the stadium to get our credentials. The young reporters and mentors welcomed me with open arms and were all very happy to have me there.
We attended the opening press conference for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup with a panel with people like legendary FIFA player Diego Forlan and FIFA Chief Women’s Football Press Officer Sarai Berman. They both recognized the game of women’s football and how it is just as important as the men’s game. Berman and FIFA have recently launched a global-strategy for women empowerment that I would love to develop a story on while I am here because she and I both believe media members can be a useful tool in spreading the word for this new global-strategy.
The best part of the day had to be ordering lunch and dinner with individuals from all different countries. You do not realize how complicated this task is. Although it is required for all of us to be able to speak English, some do not speak it as well and that does not necessarily mean the waiters understand English either. So thank goodness for our translator and literal godsend, Alexia!
Alexia is a 19-year-old local Uruguayan woman that the Young Reporters Program hired to help out in Uruguay. She organizes everything for us from our meals to our busses and she even translates for us. She has to walk around the table for 16 different people explaining to the waiter what we all want and how we want It, except for those who speak perfect Spanish of course. Alexia even bought me a coffee when I was sleep deprived and didn’t have any pesos yet. She is THE BEST.
We have reporters from Argentina, Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea and Spain. Our three mentors are from Argentina, England and Italy. Out of all of these incredible people, Phillip from New Zealand and I are the ONLY ones who only speak English... but I know some Spanish… un poco. I’M TRYING OK!?
DAY 2 – November 12, 2018
Every day we have classes in the morning with our three mentors where they teach us about media and journalism and things we should know before we head into covering the matches. Today was only our second day of classes and it was the first day of the matches for the World Cup, but today’s class really stuck out to me.
Martin, our mentor from Argentina gave his presentation on women’s football and the prejudice against the sport. He showed a video that sarcastically portrayed the Norwegian National team as incompetent players. From there he went on to lecture us on how we should all be writing about these young women in our articles and that we should not act as though it is a surprise to see a woman playing soccer.
My stomach started to feel nauseous as I looked around the room. After class I talked to many of my new friends about soccer (football to them) in their countries and if they played growing up and what it was like for girls to play in their country and the sad truth was that for many of them, it is not as common as you would think to play organized soccer growing up.
This is something I completely took for granted. When I was five years old my mom and dad signed me up for rec soccer, bought me cleats, shin guards and a mouth piece. I was handed a blue Moreau Recreation jersey and off I went. From five years old to 21 I never stopped to think that women in other countries were never given the opportunity to play this game.
When I had the game taken away from me after three knee surgeries I was heartbroken. I worked hard day in and day out to get back to playing the game because it was something that I loved. There are young women in other countries that love the game too, but are too afraid to play or may not be allowed to.
Life for women in the United States is not perfect by any means and I know I will fight a battle every day as a female in this world, but I am blessed that I had the opportunity to grow up playing the game that I love.