Thursday, 9 February 2017

Female Football Fans

Source: Norwich City Football Club

If you didn’t know, I’m a football fan. I support Norwich City and it’s a hugely important part of my life. I know that football is ‘traditionally’ a more male-dominated sport, but it is definitely even-ing out and becoming more popular among women too. One thing that does get me a bit annoyed sometimes is that I receive a subtly different treatment as a female football fan than I know my male counterparts do.

Take this recent example; I was at a University applicant day a while ago and for one of the hour sessions, we had a taster seminar, and for one task we were working in groups. I was sat at a table with 3 males. Part of the conversation went something like this (forgive me for paraphrasing slightly, the essence of the convo will be the same):

Person 1 to the whole table: So where are you all from then?
I answer, Person 2 answers,  
Person 3: I live near (insert geographical location name).
Person 2: Ah, so are you a (insert name of relevant geographic football club) fan then?
Person 3: Nah, I’m actually (insert other football club name).
Person 1: Oohh, I’m (insert said football club’s rival club).
Laughter amongst the table, and joking about how Person 2 should swap seats so the rivals don’t have to sit next to each other.
Person 1 to Person 2: So, which team do you support then?
Person 2: (Insert name of different football club).

After that, I would have loved to join in and mention that I was, also a football fan, and that my team was Norwich. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance because the person leading the session resumed talking to the room meaning the individual conversations had to conclude. Because of this, I can’t be sure, but I got the impression that, had we had the chance to talk for longer, I wouldn’t have been asked what my team was anyway. The conversation felt directed amongst the 3 males and not inclusive of myself. They weren’t rude about it at all, but I did feel very subtly excluded. Sometimes, I just want nothing more than for someone to actually ask me which team I support. I feel like a lot of the time, nobody will know unless I forcibly mention it. “Did you know guys, I support Norwich? I’m actually a huge fan and love going to games whenever I can!” Perhaps it’s because of other reasons, but a lot of the time I can’t help but feel that nobody will strike up a football conversation with me because I’m a female whereas they wouldn’t think twice about it if they were talking to another male.
It’s a small thing, but I just want someone to ask me as an equal and be genuinely interested in my answer.

I by no means am claiming to know everything about football as a lot of fans effortlessly do; however this has nothing to do with me being female – my sister knows loads about football. I mean loads. Transfer rumours? Ask her. Which team a player was bought from, and what that team’s fans thought of them? Ask her. Fans’ opinions of games on Twitter? Ask her. She doesn’t even have Twitter. Her knowledge is definitely not limited to Norwich – she’ll have a pretty all round knowledge of most teams so don’t ever doubt her just because of her gender – she probably knows more than most adult male football fans.

One thing she told me quite a while ago which I found really funny was that in one of her lessons two boys she sits next to were discussing football, specifically Marcus Rashford, the young Manchester United player. They said he was 17 years old. To which my sister thought “18. He’s 18.”* She didn’t say this out-loud but it was funny to think that she just knew it when they probably thought she didn’t have a clue about football.
*He’s now 19, but as I said, she told me of this happening a while ago, when he was still 18.

Anyway, it’s more common nowadays for women to like football and support their own teams instead of just adopting the teams their partner supports. I’m not saying that every woman has to support football, just like all men don’t have to, but I like that it’s becoming more common. I know for sure, that when I’m older, if any partner I may have goes off to matches with friends, I’ll be off to one with mine. I mean, hopefully we’ll be mutual supporters of Norwich City but we can’t have it all can we?!