Perseverance goes a long way
In a time of uncertainty, remain steadfast, determined, and resilient.
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There is nothing more inspirational than a good sports story. This story is about the first U.S women’s football team and their fight against all odds to lay the groundwork for the women's football of today.
Why did I choose to share the story of a sports team that never won an international match? The USA women’s team today is the most successful international women’s team and writing about one of their victories would have conveniently fit into the category of inspirational. Well, because I find this story inspirational in an uncanny way. This story is not about victories rather it is about the journey, the struggle and finally emerging victorious in the long run. Even though it is about a team belonging to the USA, a developed country; the journey of the team was not an easy one rather there were many more hitches than you would expect.
Try, Try till you get what you want
Now, India and the USA are very different countries with different circumstances and cultures. Agreed, it is so. But no matter how different we all are, the story of struggle always permeates boundaries. It takes only a matchstick to light forests. See if this story can light a fire in your belly.
In 1972, a law was passed in the USA banning sex discrimination in sports. As in, women were entitled to equal opportunities in sports as men. Even with the implementation of this law, there were no minor leagues for women to play in school or university level. So, what did women athletes do? They requested to try out for the men’s team. They kept trying until they were allowed to form a team for girls.
Losses and a Win
The national football women team was formed in the mid-1980s in a sports festival. The hastily assembled team was later announced to play in Italy within 2 weeks against relatively experienced teams of England, Italy, and Denmark. Men’s football uniform was handed to them which they had to fix one day prior to the match.
The team barely managed to draw a match with Denmark and lost the remaining games. Nope, there was no fairy tale ending to this story because the athletes were not prepared to even participate in the tournament. But they were able to win over the global audience. Their grit, persistence, and strong presence got the stadium chanting for them. They were not the winning team on the field but they were the team that tried the best.
For the Love of the Game
What was it like to be part of a women’s national sports team in those days? You be the judge.
There was no money and fame. The women players got ten dollars per match and fifteen dollars for international matches and there was no promise of anything apart from what they had in front of them. In a nutshell, there was no career in playing football.
One player recounts that she would sleep on the floor of her friend’s apartment so that she did not have to pay rent. They were responsible for their fitness and had to do jobs for financial support. Once, the team traveled on a coal train to play a match and once played on a dirt field. They were deprived of basic necessities but surprisingly they were undeterred and paved the way not only for football players but for all women athletes.
The COVID Context
We are living in a time where resilience and the drive to overcome are the only things you can bank on. Everything else is uncertain. In regard to the job market and economy; no one knows what awaits us or how we are going to get back to normal.
It’s not how many times you get knocked down that counts, its how many times you get back up.
Problems and challenges are inevitable like change. You like it or not but you got to deal with it. Today, you might be struggling financially, physically, or emotionally but you can and you will bounce back. All you have to do is try hard till you get what you want, remember all is never lost and pour your heart and soul in what you do. In due time, things will work out just fine.
The article is based on this podcast.
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