For one Mexican girl, playing in the school soccer league was one of her favorite things; 6-year-old Roberta been playing sports since she was little, showing a particular passion for the beautiful game. However, thanks to her school changing leagues, Roberta is now unable to play with the team that she’s been representing since 2016. Why? The new league, S’Cool Games, is not allowing her to play because she’s a girl, and her team is an all-boys side.
That’s according to her mother, Julia Romero Roisin, whose Facebook post detailing the situation quickly went viral on the Latinternet. In it, she says that the problem “started at the start of this school cycle, where, unfortunately, there wasn’t an agreement to add a girls team for Roberta’s age. We asked that they instead let her play for her team, the same one in which she had played the last cycle, the one that is all boys.” She even says that they agreed to sign a waiver, removing the league’s liability in case Roberta got hurt playing with the boys.
S’Cool rejected that alternative, however, saying that she couldn’t play with the boys, no matter what; part of their policy is to have equal development for boys and girls in sports, as long as the teams are exclusive to each gender. The only solution given by the league was to have Roberta play with girls 2 and 3 years older than her: “2 and 3 years older than her, and there’s clearly a difference in size. But, with boys her age, she just can’t play because she’s a girl.”
While Romero Roisin hopes to change the league’s mind to allow her daughter to play with her team, Roberta is still training with the boys; she just can’t play in their league games. Romero Roisin is trying to find a league for her where she can play, whether with girls or with boys her age.
This is not the first instance this year of gender issues filtering into the world of children’s soccer; in June, a girls team was disqualified after one of the players was mistaken for a boy, due to a new, short haircut. In that instance, the girl’s team cut their hair to match their teammates in solidarity.