Lala (right) gets ready to pass the ball during a practice in Rocinha.Lianne Milton for NPR
When I first heard about American legislation called Title IX , I didn’t immediately understand the links with sport. It says that any education agency receiving money from the government must spend the same amount on male and female activities.
The big winner out of this was women’s sport in schools and universities who’ve hugely gained in funding since 1972. I read a story in yesterday's Irish Times about how many Irish women have benefited from athletics scholarships in the States, no doubt connected to this law.
I spoke to the American author of soccer-book ‘When girls become Lions’ to find out more. Jo Kadlecek thinks more should be made of the shock impact of the legislation.
She said: ‘Today’s young women players in the U.S. have so many more opportunities because of Title IX and I think it’s helpful when they know it wasn’t always this way.
I’d hope that could motivate them to play all the harder and with more confidence, knowing they have a history of champions that helped insure they have this chance. Then they don’t take all the fancy equipment, the great fields, and staffs for granted!
I suppose it can instill a deeper gratitude that can make the effort more meaningful.’
Jo lives in Brisbane, Australia now. And even though Australia is known the world over for its love (obsession?!) of sports, she’s seeing some gaps.
'Obviously, in the U.S. the success of the World Cup reinforced the game’s popularity for girls and women players as well as its fans. The (Australian) Matildas were equally inspiring and heroic I think during the World Cup, but my sense is that women’s professional soccer here has a long way to go before it attains the equal status and pay it deserves,’ she said.
Still not sure?
Listen to this short NPR radio doco on the differences between women's football/soccer in Brazil and America to become aware of some gaping holes that law has been busy filling.
Look around at your sport situation, do you need a Title IX?