Mexican Girls Fight Back Against Machismo with Boys’ Own Game: Football
Jennifer Gonzalez Covarrubias - AFP/Citizen
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November 8, 2017
Guadalupe Garcia Alvarez, who organized the Mazahua soccer team, says playing football has been “an act of rebellion” against traditional expectations (AFP)
Guadalupe Garcia, an indigenous Mexican woman, was working as a maid when she fell in love — not with her boss, like a hackneyed telenovela plot, but with football.
Garcia, a petite but powerful athlete with a sharp mind and wide smile, was not allowed to play football growing up as a poor Mazahua indigenous girl in the small village of San Juan Coajomulco. She got her first chance as a young adult, and discovered that football is “an act of rebellion” in a country where the sport is still seen as a boys’ game, she says.
Garcia will be a keynote speaker this week at the Women’s Forum Mexico, an event designed to bring together influential voices to address the deep-rooted problems facing women in the country.
Today Garcia, 34, runs a football club for Mazahua girls and young women, using the sport to empower them in a country where machismo runs deep and violence against women is rampant. Her goal, she says, is to instill in them a vital message: “This body is mine, and nobody touches it unless I want.”
The state of Mexico, where she lives, has the worst rate of deadly violence against women in the country. Last year, at least 263 women were murdered in the central state, according to the rights group OCNF.
Their bodies turn up almost daily — raped, mutilated, half-burnt, floating in rivers of sewage or even buried in their murderers’ yards.
... Since Garcia founded her program two years ago, she has coached around 300 Mazahua girls in the skills of life and football.
The game is still largely forbidden in their world — a deeply traditional one, where men hold the power, girls are often removed from school to marry young, and many families refuse to let their daughters “open their legs” running around a football pitch.
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