We Are America

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Photo ofGiselle Olivar

I am the youngest sibling in the household, I grew up only surrounded by brothers. I was always expected to be playing with dolls and playhouses, but I found myself kicking a soccer ball. hoped one day to be as good as my brothers in soccer.

Seeing how athletic my older brothers were, I expected myself to rise to their level, always comparing my skills to theirs. But I was more of an annoying little sister than a star athlete in the eyes of everyone.This led me to feel disappointed in myself because I was feeling insecure about being as good as my brothers. 

I had this ball of fire burning inside of me, where nothing at the time was able to stop me from training as hard as them. But sometimes the thoughts about my inabilities or being underestimated held me back sometimes. It's hard to fight the feeling of not believing in yourself,  because you constantly hold these unrealistic standards by comparing yourself to others. I recall always insisting to play soccer with my siblings but their friends would say “Dude she won't be able to play against us”. At the time I felt underestimated, what was wrong with me that made them automatically believe I'm incapable of going up against them in a soccer matching.? I began to criticize myself, constantly thinking that I wasn't fit enough or I wasn’t working hard enough. As I got older, I realized that wasn't the case because I was just as passionate and as determined as my brothers.

I recall in my last year of middle school, I wanted to join a sport. I enjoyed the idea of competing and training with teammates because I knew that we’d all have similar goals in some way. So whenever we'd have free time to play any sport such as basketball, soccer, and volleyball in my gym class, I would take the opportunity to participate in one of them. On this day, I chose to play soccer in which most of the team was guys. I found it weird that they were shocked that I wanted to play. As I tried to kick the ball to one of my teammates, the kick was too weak and the ball was stolen from the opposite team. “Quit kicking like a girl” one of them said. This was the moment I started to realize and understand why I wasn't taken seriously in sports. Why everyone always assumed and underestimated my skills before even watching me play. It's because i'm a girl. My words were basically stolen from me, I found this comment so absurd I had no clue how to respond. What does being a girl have anything to do with my abilities and capacities in sports? 

Women are often belittled and underestimated because through a stereotype they are automatically put into this category of weaker both physically and mentally. We need to get rid of these stereotypes because there are many women who are held back from joining sports because they fear this type of judgement. Just because I'm a woman does not mean that I'm incapable of doing something, being a woman in no way holds me back from achieving what I work hard for in life. Never  doubt yourself for being a woman in a sport that is more popular among men. We live in a time where some people still compare how women play vs how men play in order to make men feel more valued and women feel less of themselves. It's important to realize 	that we are all different. Every individual has their strengths and their weaknesses and simply because you're a woman does not define the weaknesses and strengths that you hold. Remember that you are not defined by the person you are on the outside.  

© Giselle Olivar . All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.