By Anya Daftary

Football, an ever-growing phenomenon has taken the world places. The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup was the eighth edition. The tournament was played in France, from 7th June to 7th July. The championship was contested by 24 teams, with 52 matches played in nine different cities. The USWNT (United States Women’s National Team), defending champions were awarded the trophy, once again. They played against the Netherlands, winning 2-0, acquiring their fourth record title, and becoming the 2nd nation to have successfully retained the title. Star players, Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan continue to make their way into people’s hearts with their out of this world skills, commitment to the game and overall dedication to making this #HerGameToo.

The world cup was a true affirmation of femme fatale. At the end of the game, amidst the victory, the crowd went wild shouting ‘equal pay.’ Rapinoe, who was one of the 28 players who sued the United States Soccer Federation alleging gender discrimination, said it felt like an iconic turning point in history. The lawsuit against the USSF was filed in federal court in LA on March 8th, iconically, international women’s day. This further built-up tensions between the federation and the team over working conditions and pay equity. It further cited that “female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts,” winning the world cup seemed just one step further for true equality for men and women.

“It was a big improvement from last time, there were so many rising young players. It should just be called the World Cup, why is it called the Women’s World Cup? Why is it so extraordinary?”
Aarez Zaidi, 7th Grade

The women’s world cup is still such a new concept. Since the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the number of finalists increased from 16 to 24. In July 2019, FIFA president Gianni Infantino suggested an enlargement of the Women’s World Cup from 24 to 32 teams, perhaps starting with the 2023 edition, as well as doubling the championship’s prize money. On 31 July 2019, the FIFA Council unanimously decided to increase the tournament to 32 teams, featuring eight groups of four. Though it seems to gain popularity, this was only the eight championships and we still have ways to come. As we come close to the next world cup, India’s men’s team is fighting in Qatar after a devastating loss against Oman. Arnav Gorantala, an eight-grade student thinks that the women’s team is fantastic and 100% has a chance next time around, while the men’s team has improved a lot thanks to the new coach but are still not at the same level as other national teams.

The Indian women’s team, captained by Loitongbam Ashalata Devi. india hosted the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 1979, becoming the runners-up both, then and in 1983. India has won the SAFF Women’s Championship five times in a row and the south Asian games twice.

The men’s world cup host nation has been determined for over 3 years, while FIFAWWC 2023 is still to be determined. Shortlisted among Argentina, Colombia and South Africa are also South Korea, interestingly expressing interest in a joint bid with DPRK. it is clear that women’s football is not the same as men and the problem isn’t all the opportunity. The outcry raised when asked why girls don’t play sports was large. And perhaps fear wasn’t the biggest reason. When asked why she doesn’t play sports, Naina Sharma an eighth-grader had this to say;

I feel pressure about doing something wrong and that leading to judgment. I don’t particularly like sports. Team games have this thing where if you screw up, the whole team loses, and you let them down, and that’s something I don’t want to do. I do want to play sports but I don’t know how to play them and feel like personally, academics is a bigger priority for me at this point.

Is it a lack of opportunity or the inclination of a norm that they cannot play? Many girls today have the opportunity and the means to play, but they don’t! So the question is what is holding them back? A few of the sixth-grade girls who play in the school team feel as though they have great opportunities but sometimes the boys’ games are just a little more popular. The common answer just seems to be the fear of messing up. So how do we fix it? How do we make it #HerGameToo?

Anya Daftary is co-head at The Ascent. Her passions include music, dance, history and writing -- specifically in the Hindustan that was. She believes strongly in the future of India and wants to help be a part of it. She hopes to make The Ascent a platform for young people to be familiar with the events and news around and have a voice