Long-term readers of the blog will know I have often advocated for a greater mixing up of male and female sports players on teams, given the standard deviations for both ‘groups’ are massively overlapping and a considerable number of female (potential and active) sportspeople would comfortably match male counterparts, at least in terms of ability.
In particular, this seems only sensible to do at younger ages, where different growth rates and pre-pubescent childhood really does leave very little to distinguish between those we consider boys and those we classify as girls. If anything, early teenagers usually see taller and stronger girls in their teams than many of the boys.
That is why it is excellent to see one of the biggest clubs in London football, Arsenal FC, breaking the conventions and entering a team entirely made up of their enthusiastic and skillful U10s girls into a league normally designated for boys. Thanks to my friend MK for forwarding this to me.
The article covers several key areas which highlight the challenges faced by such a team, but also the positive attitudes and outcomes which result from the decision. A parent who expresses concern about the dangers of tackles on the girls becomes one of the main supporters of the initiative, and the girls themselves find that playing against boys starts to “feel normal”, which would seem to be the ultimate success of the move.
Because of the historical greater levels of coaching and support that these boys teams have received, the girls who face them also naturally see their own level advancing faster, as they rise to the challenge. Until recently, the FA explicitly disallowed football matches between people of different sexes, so this represents a major overhaul and one which can only benefit those involved.