As Toddler L gets older, I’m starting to get an insight into the type of girl – and woman – she’ll become. Her personality is developing, as are things like her interests. Even at two-years old, it’s already clear that she is headstrong, confident and has a love for being active. A dangerous combination!
I don’t want to hold her back or stop her from doing any of these interests. I see my role as being someone who can open – figurative and literal – doors for her. It’s then up to her which ones she wants to walk through, obviously with guidance if required. This goes for everything, be it Toddler classes now or University in the future.
It’s not something I think about a lot, but I am aware that she may face challenges in her life because she’s a girl. I find it ridiculous that gender issues like this still exist, but unfortunately they do in certain traditionally male-dominated areas. As such, I think it’s awesome when I see things being done to actively encourage and show girls that gender isn’t a barrier.
Take football, for instance. Although it is still generally seen as a boys sport, I firmly believe that this perception is starting to break down. Factors such as England’s impressive third place finish at the Women’s World Cup in 2015, the growing popularity of the Women’s Super League and more coverage in the mainstream media are helping to support and encourage girls into the sport.
I personally think anyone should be able to play football. Just like anyone should be able to do anything they want. Being a big footy fan myself, I’ve already actively encouraged Toddler L to partake in Little Kickers football classes so that we have a shared interest outside of CBeebies. However, I’ve done this alongside other things like dance, gymnastics and swimming – the idea being that she’ll figure out what she likes and what she wants to pursue as she gets older.
You’ve also then got the likes of Women’s FA Cup Sponsor SSE, who are committed to improving girls only football provisions. For instance, The FA SSE Girls Football Participation Programme has more than 60 clubs taking part around the UK as a way of providing coaching and equipment to girls interested in the beautiful game. Stuff like this is soooo important – just look at the number of “o’s” I used to highlight this…
They’re also sharing inspiring stories to show the power of football in girls’ lives. A few months ago, I shared our experience of football alongside the story of England legend Kelly Smith and her dad Bernard. This was as part of SSE’s ‘Dads and Daughters’ series which celebrates the inspirational father-daughter bonds that exist across all levels of the game.
SSE have now released their second story – featuring 12-year old Daisy McGregor and her father Kenny – as part of this series. Kenny used to take Daisy to watch Peterborough United when she was younger. Much like her dad, she fell in love with both The Posh and the sport.
At the age of six, Daisy was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome – a condition which causes her to have involuntary physical ticks and coughing. Encouraged by her dad, Daisy began playing football and joined the local all-girls side Yaxley Football Club. Daisy has found that playing footy has had a huge effect on her life – she made friends, built her confidence and found that her symptoms subside when on the pitch.
You can see the short video below – I’m not going to lie, I watched it with a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat:
It’s fantastic that Daisy has found something which has such a positive impact on her life. Not only does she have a special relationship with her dad because of football, but it obviously provides much needed relief from her condition. She looks pretty handy with the ball at her feet too, so fingers crossed she can make the step up as she gets older.
I think things like this SSE ‘Dads and Daughters’ campaign are a great way of showing the positive effect football can have on girls growing up in the UK. Despite not always being seen as a girly activity, it’s really important that people recognise that gender shouldn’t be a barrier. A lot of this starts with us as parents.
Toddler L is the only girl at her football class, but that doesn’t stop us. She enjoys it, and as long as she continues to do so, I have no qualms about supporting this interest as she grows up. In my eyes, that should be true of everything in life. I wouldn’t be doing my fatherly duty if I let things like stereotypes get in her way as she grows up.
N.B. This is a collaborative post written with SSE, one of the UK’s leading energy companies, supplying energy to around 8.21 million customers throughout Great Britain and Ireland.