women play football

details of the interview

Role of the Interviewed: football coach/ PE teacher

Age: 36

Gender: male

Nationality: Bulgarian

Type of radicalization: gender based violence

Historical period collocation: may 2018

Date/Country of the Interview: 14/09/2018, Bulgaria

Interviewer: Sdruzhenie “Shans i zakrila” - Opportunity and Protection Association (OPA)

OPA

Have you witnessed or experienced personal situations of radicalization during your activity in sport organizations? What kind of radicalizations have you detected? (Gender, politics, religion, racism, crime, homophobia…)

coach

I'm a coach of a school football team of girls. I will tell you a story I experienced during the last tournament a few months ago. It is related to causing of psychological violence to my players by boys from the audience.

Telling your story. What has happened? How has the story started?

As you know, football is perceived as a game for men but more women are starting to play as well. Every year there is an inter-school football tournament in our town. In the last two years we have also included girls' teams. Both boys’ and girs’ matches were running at the same time. My team qualified for the final.  During our final match, boys from another team in the tournament started to insult rudely the players on the field. They were shouting, "You are very funny, you cannot do anything, football is not a female game, shame and disgrace for football, go taking pictures for Instagram and do not deal with men’s things." Their coach did not react. The tension on the field was great, after all it was the final. These insults further exasperated the girls. I tried to calm them down, but the boys did not stop offending them. Then one of my players kicked the ball strongly against these guys and hit them. The boys jumped, ready to respond with violence. The referee showed the player a red card and she was out of the match.

How did you realize what was going on? What kind of signals could you detect? How do you explain radicalization, referring to your experience?

Since the beginning of the match the boys laughed loudly and then started to offend the girls roughly. If we, the coaches, had not intervened the situation might have escalated to a fight.

Have you tried to cope with this situation? What was possible to do? What have you done? Have you involved other people/organizations? Who was involved?

I was angry with this offensive behavior of the boys. I think that sport should unite, not discriminate. Unfortunately, many people think that football is for men and women are not good enough in this sport.
I talked to my colleague, the coach of these guys, that we should not allow such behavior and aggression, but to teach them to be tolerant and good-natured to the rivals. He, of course, agreed with me, gathered the boys into the dressing room and went to talk to them.
I also spoke with my team and told them that although they were provoked they should not resolve their conflicts with violence.

Did you feel you had the skills to manage this kind of situations? Which was the most difficult part of it? Have you had any form of support?

I have always tried to teach the children that I train that the athletic achievements are as much important as the character of the athlete and his/her behaviour to others. I teach them to be tolerant and responsible people. I think that attitude is most important. If you are good to people and show respect they will respond in the same way. This is the way to cope with violent incidents in sport and in life as well.

End of the story. How did the story end up? What have you learned from this personal experience? What would you say to people who are living similar situations?

We won the match and got the cup. All the girls were happy. I hope the girls' tournaments will get more popular and having the chance to play the girls will become better and will be considered as equal to the boys in this sport.

against gender-based violence