Meet Josefina Martorell from Buenos Aires in Argentina. At the age of fifteen she was playing football professionally and since then has played in many different countries, from the US to Congo to Niger to Spain to Afghanistan - wherever she was living at the time. She is part of an organisation called Futbol Militante, where women occupy public spaces usually reserved for men, to play football. They have football programmes in place for boys and girls as young as 3!
I grew up in Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina. I had a very happy childhood playing lots of sports, always encouraged by my parents. My father would always ask me how many goals I scored at a tournament or at a game. If I said “four” he’d ask “why not five??”. It became a bit of a joke between us.
But even though girls are encouraged to play sports here when they are young, that falls away when they get older. When I grew a bit older the boys started calling me “marimacho” (tomboy). It made me stop playing with them - but it didn’t stop me playing.
I play football because I wouldn’t be myself if I wasn’t.
Equality is a very big question in an undefined time. Sport helps - in some way - tear down the walls of current social norms. Sport helps strengthen women and girls' self-esteem and helps challenge gender stereotypes that still block women from participating fully in social, professional and public life. Being naive I have the hope that we will soon reach equality in legal, economic, social and cultural terms, but being more realistic I simply hope that in Argentina, the levels of domestic violence decline; a woman is murdered every thirty hours here.
When I was nineteen I went travelling by myself across South America. It was then that I realised my gender carried specific dangers – dangers to my life and dangers to my body. One particularly bad, dangerous experience happened with a man I met by chance. It was an experience unfortunately shared by many of my female friends so I didn’t make much of it. Years later I lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo where women experience many daily threats and fears; about 48 women are raped in DRC every hour. I realised that despite our cultural differences, as women, we shared specific experiences that made me feel close to them.
Climbing this mountain means a lot to me. Climbing this mountain represents the long struggle of women to realise their goals. Sports help make the fight for women’s empowerment a reality – if they can participate in sport, they can participate in any sphere of life they choose. I want to push myself beyond new boundaries – if I can accomplish this feat, it means I can accomplish many important things with my life.
Football plays a very important role in my life. Through football I met some of my best friends and I even met my partner. I cannot imagine myself away from football for a long time. If a ball is rolling I am down for another match!
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