Monday, 5 September 2011

Not only a boy's thing

When we think of a sport such as soccer, the names that instantly come to many people’s minds are Pelé, Ronaldo, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, and others. Now try tennis: many of us would think of Guga or Roger Federer. And what about boxing? Do the names of Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali come to your mind right away?
            It is curious that most of us would think of a male sportsperson instead of a female in a first moment. However, there are extraordinary female athletes in the history of sports. Yet, for many years sports was considered a male world, and women had to fight to be recognized as good professionals and they still do in the present. 

We can think of many great professionals who are representing women in sports today. Serena Williams, world famous tennis player, has won two Olympic gold medals and was considered the first in the world ranking five times!

            Let’s not forget our Brazilian golden girls: Marta, one of the most famous and honored soccer players today. She has been named FIFA World Player of the Year four times (2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009) and has won many championships. She is compared by the Brazilian fans, with Pelé, being called "Pelé with skirts." Even Pelé himself agreed with the comparison. We can also name Daiane dos Santos, one of Brazil's most successful female gymnasts and Maurren Maggi, Olympic gold medallist. 

   All of these victories for women today would not have been possible if other female athletes had not fought for recognition before. Here are three great examples.

            Women can’t play soccer very well, right? Well, if you ask soccer player Mia Hamm, she will tell you the opposite! Her name is important in the history of women's soccer because she has scored more international goals in her career than any other player, male or female, in the history of U.S. soccer. She was named the women's FIFA World Player of the Year twice in 2001 and 2002, and she is listed as one of FIFA's 125 best living players (selected by Pelé). She retired from the sport in 2004. Now, she’s a representative for women's sports all over the World. The mission of her foundation is to promote more opportunities for young women in sports.

Boxing is too dangerous for women, isn’t it? Not for women like Laila Ali. She is the daughter of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, and for many years was a professional boxer too.

            Laila Ali began her boxing career when she was 15 years old. When Laila told her father that she wanted to be a boxer he was not happy about her going into this profession but she continued and proved to be a successful champion.

            Laila became a strong and capable boxer and her career would have a lot of merit and attention even without her famous family name. She retired in 2007. Today, she also works to promote women's and girls' involvement in sports and athletics, and she is the president of the Women’s sports foundation.

Check these out:

However, one of the most influential names in sports is legendary tennis player Billie Jean King. She has won many championships and has many records. All her professional life she has confronted against sexism in sports and society. She won "The Battle of the Sexes" in 1973, in which she defeated Bobby Riggs, a former Wimbledon men's singles champion. One curious thing about her is that she always played with her glasses on!

            Billie is the founder of the Women's Tennis Association, the Women's Sports Foundation, and owner of World Team Tennis. For years she has been dedicated to advancing the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity.

Check it out:

Women’s Tennis Association:

These great athletes sure proved that there are no limits to women in sports. Here is a video for you to feel even more inspired!