Interest in women’s football is at an all-time high and on the surface it appears to be flourishing. Coverage of the Women’s World Canada 2015 is a testament to this. However, as a parent of both male and female youth players, it is evident that the gap between the women’s and men’s game is huge; a gap that exists from grassroots right through to the top level.

At youth level, I see coaches with higher qualifications assigned to boys’ teams and parent coaches allocated to the girls. My eldest daughter is consistently allocated Monday nights for training; Monday is a post-match, rest night for my son. My children have always been able to play EA Sports, FIFA games and select from a range of megastar male football players. It’s only recently been announced that FIFA 16 will feature female players for the first time, a great progression for the profile of the women’s game. Of course, young female players can play on male teams and many top women’s players such as France’s pacey left back, Amel Majri, have done this during their player development years, but this is not the same thing as equality. Majri’s confidence in her ability to reach her goals is high, but she could never tread the same path as her male teammates.

Canadian Women’s National Football Team, FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015. Photo: IQRemix

Canadian Women’s National Football Team, FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015. Photo: IQRemix

So while the women’s game is flourishing more than ever before, the playing field is still vastly uneven. From a positive psychology perspective, this poses some interesting questions about possible differences in goal motivation between the male and female players. The men may occupy the higher ground and all its promised riches, but abject circumstances can be the catalyst for remarkable achievement, so as a parent I wonder if occupying the lower ground could benefit my daughter’s development. Could it cultivate greater goal motivation for her?

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Lara Mossman
Lara Mossman
Lara Mossman is currently working towards her PhD in wellbeing and positive psychology in football at La Trobe University in Melbourne. As well as being a regular contributor to PDP, Lara teaches positive psychology at The University of Melbourne.
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