I’m a woman who plays American football.
For a men’s team. It’s not exactly what I set out to do, or planned on happening, but it’s how things have turned out. And what has really surprised me is that it’s been ok. Not exactly the training, that can be bloody hard graft at times, especially motivating myself to go for a run or do weights at 5 in the morning.
What has surprised me is the lack of sexist comments, or ‘pampering’. I saw and was at the arse end of plenty of that when I served in the territorial army, and it’s depressing. It’s depressing that in this day and age a woman who wants to do something seen to be in the masculine realm is still relegated to sit on the edge, dipping their toes in the pond because they are held at arm’s length or taunted there.
This isn’t a rant to the male of the species. In fact more women have fallen into this category than I would like to admit. The women who fluttered their eyelashes and got a fella to do the heavy lifting because they could. The women who wouldn’t give 100% and still passed because they tried hard, aw bless ‘em. The women that ask me what I’m going to do about my son whilst I’m at training, who’ll look after him, what about the house work, you must really struggle to get it all done and be a good mum. By contrast the men in my life and whole heartedly supportive. Husband, Dad, Cousins, Uncles.
So when I joined the Spartans on a trial session in the rain and wind on a muddy pitch with guys a lot bigger than me I was expecting someone to ask if I’d made a mistake, if it was really for me. That didn’t happen. It hasn’t happened. And now knowing how the team operates and their ethos towards the sport, I know they never will.
I’ve been coached alongside everyone else with the same drills, the tackles, the same encouragement. It has been a place where I have felt utterly equal. I get the aggression and the comradery. I’m with the jokers, not at the end of a punchline.
I’m a Spartan.
So the ironing can wait. The vacuum cleaner can chill out for another day. Because I get to come home knowing I’m bettering myself on the pitch, and it makes for a better me off it as well. Plus I get my morning cuddle no matter what I’ve done on a Sunday afternoon.