Friday, May 8, 2015

"GFL" by Victoria Lemmings

I suppose I’ve always been sort of a feminist. Even when I was in elementary school, I’ve always wholeheartedly believed that anything boys can do, girls are perfectly capable of doing, too (and usually, girls can do it even better). In fact, nothing frustrated me more than in fourth grade, when I was told I couldn’t play with the guys in their football game at recess. They played every single day, and I always watched and observed the plays they ran. Now, I was no stranger to football. My dad taught me how to throw a wicked spiral, and I often threw around the ball with my brothers in our backyard. I could throw, I could catch, and I could sprint pretty fast. I watched the Redskins on TV all the time so I knew all the rules and positions. However, when I asked the boys in my class if I could play with them, they laughed and said no.

This made me furious. They hadn’t even seen me play; they just refused because it would be weird for a girl to play with them. Not only was I angry, but I was also hurt, because I was friends with many of the boys in my class, and I expected them to treat me as an equal with respect. So I did the only thing that I could think of- I created my own football league for recess play. It was called GFL, the Girls Football League.

I recruited girls in my class whom I thought would be a good addition to the GFL. I organized the group into two teams for scrimmages, assigned people positions, and made up plays for the girls to follow. We practiced for weeks. I must admit, I didn’t have much talent to work with, and at first it was nearly impossible to execute a simple pass to one of our wide receivers. Despite our rocky skills, I had a blast proving to my classmates and to myself that girls could play football if they wanted. We actually got much better with time; by our final few days, we scored multiple touchdowns per practice by throwing passes and running the ball.

After a month of solid practicing and scrimmaging during our thirty minutes allotted for recess, we decided that we were ready for the big leagues- we were ready to play against the boys’ team. I’ll spare the details on the actual match (it wasn’t the best game ever, and we lost by about 30 points), but I will say that it was an empowering experience. Though we were less skilled compared to the boys’ team, just the fact that we were trying and holding our own was the most important thing for me. I scored a touchdown, which was a real “in your face” moment to the boys who wouldn’t let me play with them before. Through GFL, I realized that I am proud to be a girl, and despite the inequality we may face on the playground or out in the “real world”, I am happy to prove the incredible capabilities of females.

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