Monday, July 12, 2010

FIFA Germany 2010 U-20 Women's World Cup: Women's Sports and Health for Saudis and Others

Barely has the FIFA World Cup 2010 ended, but the Germany 2010 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup is about to begin: July 13-August 1, 2010. In this 5th Women's U-20 World Cup (the FIFA Women's World Cup began in 1991) 16 teams of women under 20 years old will compete : Nigeria, Ghana, Japan, Korea Republic, Korea DPR, Costa Rica, USA, Mexico, New Zealand, Brazil, Colombia, England, France, Sweden, Switzerland and host Germany are qualified.

This tournament began as a U-19 one in Canada in 2002. Since then it has been held every 2 years, in synchronization with the World Cup, and in 2006 became the U-20. It has been held on 4 continents so far:

2002 Held Canada Winner USA
2004 Held Thailand Winner Germany
2006 Held Russia Winner Korea DPR
2008 Held Chile Winner USA

This years's schedule begins with the Group stage on July 13 to 21, followed by  the Quarter Finals  July 24-25, and the Semi-Finals July 29. Both the 3rd place and the final match will be held on Sunday August 1.

Canada v Saudi
Canada 1 Saudi 0

The Canadian/Saudi presence is reversed compared to the World Cup, yet is still among the referees:
As for Saudi, it seems that the post by Sabria Jawhar of Sabria's Out of the Box, "The only running Saudi women do is at malls and airports", has relevance here. Although Sabria is addressing the Olympics, and the current ploy by Anita DeFrantz to get Saudi to let women participate--calling for a refusal to allow the Saudi's men's team to participate--Sabria stresses the lack of infrastructure for women's sports, and the cultural issues involved in women's possible participation locally and in international competition. I agree with her fully that compromising the athletic aspirations of the Saudi male athletes is unfair, jettisons their hard work, and raises the ire of Saudi women (enraged mothers, wives, sisters, relatives, friends, supporters...not pretty). Imagine if the same strategy were applied to Saudi men's participation in the World Cup! I venture a guess that the fury would be infinitely greater!

As others have pointed out, fitness and sports are part of a healthy lifestyle, including social activity, and foster socialization skills that are applicable in various areas of life. It is a commonplace of the analysis of women in the workplace to say that women lack the socialization skills necessary for success and advancement because they traditionally have not played team sports to the extent that men have. Therefore they have more difficulty handling competitive situations, being collaborative as a team yet still personally competitive, being able to handle both success and defeat, being able to "play their position".

I agree with that up to a point, although it is changing as there is greater development of  girls' and women's sports infrastructures, including in sports previously reserved for boys and men, like football/soccer, ice hockey, baseball, and North American football, along with the more established basketball and volleyball. I also think the workplace is changing, and that in any case the same skills can be acquired in other ways, or are offset by skills traditionally seen to be held by women more often: collaboration, delegation, multi-tasking, communication, conflict-resolution. If one were to stick with the analogy, it could be argued that women would need to acquire the particular desirable skills by playing on men's teams since they need to be socialized to a still male-dominant workplace. Or perhaps, all would be better off playing at least some co-ed sports, as both genders function in the workplace and women are rising to the upper ranks of their fields.

While women in Saudi have access to private sports facilities, and fitness centres, it seems there is little infrastructure for team sports, like early classes, house leagues, and competitive leagues beyond what schools might offer. Certainly ongoing participation after adulthood, and particularly after marriage and children seem more counter-cultural than in some other cultures. Yet this is also true generally of traditional, and Arab cultures. Somehow I doubt that co-ed sports will be organized any time soon.

What opportunities are there in Saudi for organized sports for women?
What opportunities are there where you live?
How much advertising goes in to women's events as opposed to men's?
What are the advantages, disadvantages of team sports for women?
What is your impression of the place of organized team sports in building socialization skills?
What has been the impact in your own life of organized team sports (for men or women)?
Have you participated in co-ed teams sports?
How was that similar or different?
Any other comments, thoughts, experiences?

USA 2008 Champions
Related Posts:
FIFA World Cup 2010: On the Eve of the Final
FIFA World Cup 2010: The Final
FIFA World Cup 2010: Sport Photography and the Photographer's Gaze


caraboska said...

The FIFA Women's World Cup has been going on for longer than that. See here:

They mention the goalies who played in the first women's world championship, and it turns out I went to high school with one of them - Kim Maslin. She started out playing goalie for the boys' team in high school because there was no girls' team. She was one of the ground-breakers at our school.

There was even one in the other direction as well - there was no boys' lacrosse team, so one of the boys made a successful bid to play for the girls' team (no, they did not make him wear a skirt, but he went on record that if it had been required, he would have complied...). It caused quite a furor, although he was about the same size as the girls. There was, however, another boy who wanted to play - a huge bear of a goalie who was nearly impossible to score off of. The coach didn't let him on the team because it would have caused a TOTAL UPROAR.

Times have certainly changed, so much more equal opportunities nowadays than back in the '80s...

Susanne said...

Oddly enough, I have enjoyed women's soccer and know a player (!!!) because of Mia Hamm who played at nearby UNC-Chapel Hill.

"She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she helped the Tar Heels to four National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) women's championships in five years (she sat out the season of 1991 to concentrate on the 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup in China). North Carolina only lost one game in ninety five she played. ... In 1991, when the women's national team won the FIFA Women's World Cup for the first time, Hamm became the youngest American woman to win a World Cup championship at the age of nineteen."

I played high school basketball and a little bit of volleyball. I also enjoyed soccer, but never played organized soccer. Just with the guys after school.

Thanks for sharing this information!

Chiara said...

Caraboska and Susanne--thank you both for mentioning the FIFA Women's World Cup began in 1991. I have edited the post to make it clearer that the 2002 start was for this U-20 World Cup.

Caraboska-Welcome, and thank you for your comment, and sharing the cross-gender experiences of broadening the appeal of a sport and the opportunities for players. There have been men who showed up for varsity synchro tryouts--talk about your UPROAR. Well, at least a subdued ?????. One I met was decent and the other very good. BUT they look odd because of differences in body build. Even on a simple back float, their, uh, "bumps" are all in the wrong places. The heterosexual duet one did with a team mate was "different" because there is immediately a sexual element like in pairs figure skating. Not a bad idea just different! Congrats to your high school mate!

Susanne--Mia Hamm! Fabulous! I was a basketball star until puberty then lost my height advantage and got knocked senseless then called for staying too long (stunned) in the key. Bah high school basketball! Soccer was also strictly phys ed class, but fun, and great exercise. My coed team sports adventures are limited to pickup baseball--as in me blending into the grass when at bat, and in the field. Same offensive and defensive strategy I have. Fortunately the outfielders and I have a tacit agreement that they cover the ball and I stay out of their (and the ball's) way! Otherwise I ooohhhh and aaaahhh at my nephew's prowess. Fortunately he is a decent player so it isn't hypocritical in the name of auntillary love! LOL :) Thanks for your comment!

I hope others will join you both in sharing their adventures, fitness challenges, and whether or not team sports experience is a serious issue for women in workplace dynamics! I also think it affects men who immigrate to a country where the team sports dominating are different!

NN said...

"I agree with her fully that compromising the athletic aspirations of the Saudi male athletes is unfair, jettisons their hard work, and raises the ire of Saudi women (enraged mothers, wives, sisters, relatives, friends, supporters...not pretty). "

So you would presumably feel that compromising the athletic aspirations of white South African athletes was unfair when their country was banned from Olympics due to racial apartheid policies? Or do you feel that KSA is so super-special that it should receive a waiver from complying with IOC's own charter? Maybe South Africa should have used the "racial discrimination is a part of our ancient culture" card, huh.

Anonymous said...

Do I perceive a tinge of bitterness in NN's comment? Seems to me that sports are sports, and culture is culture, and if the two don't mesh, then they simply don't mesh.

I think it's unfair for any country to be sanctioned because of perceived inequalities (by other countries) of color or gender. All countries have their issues, some greater than others, but to mix them up with international sports does nothing but throw fuel on a fire, IMHO.

NN said...

Whether my comments are tinged with bitterness or joy has zero bearing on the facts of the argument I'm presenting. As far as I'm concerned, IOC has a formal charter, which bans any country practicing gender, racial and other discrimination from the Olympic events. Yes? What legally substantiated argument do you have in favor of allowing KSA to violate it while remaining subject to IOC rules? Is KSA in the dark about the content of the IOC charter, or do they continue to believe that rules don't apply to them?

The fact of the matter is that Olympic Games are run by IOC according to IOC rules, and they have complete powers to enforce them if they please. If KSA doesn't want to comply with these rules, it's up to them, but then they shouldn't be surprised when they are banned from IOC events. When I drive my car on the highway, I don't start making up my own traffic rules.

As a parting comment, Kuwait, Bahrain, Afghanistan and Iran - not exactly beacons of moderation - don't seem to have a problem with meshing culture and international sports.

Chiara said...

NN-Welcome to my blog, and thank you for picking up this topic here. I have decided to do a separate post on it so I won't respond substantively now. Thanks again. I hope you will comment on newer and older posts that are of interest to you.

Marahm--Welcome to my blog, and thank you for your comments here. I hope you will also find older and newer posts of interest to comment on as well. As above I will address this topic substantively in a post. Thanks again!


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