Meet our Swedish goalkeeper, Maja Åström! She’ll be hoping to keep a clean sheet here and make her daughters proud by climbing Mt Kilimanjaro to add her voice to the call for an equal playing field.

To support the Equal Playing Field players, please visit http://equalplayingfield.com/donate/

 

I grew up in the northern part of Sweden and was handed a ball to play with before I was even walking. My mum and dad were never very interested in sports but they let me play, day and night, as long as I also managed school. I’ve always had my parents’ support - but they also never pushed me. Putting all my spare time into football was all driven by my inner passion. My younger sister was also in love with the sport and represented Sweden for youth national teams.

 

I played in the highest league in Sweden from 2000 to 2012 winning the Swedish nationals (2004, 20012) and playing in the finals of the UEFA cup with Djurgården/Älvsjö 2005. My proudest moment in football, now that I look back, is the finals in the Swedish Cup 2004 where I saved a one on one in extra time, securing the win and with that the double (league and cup). I’ve also represented Sweden in a number of games, but I don’t think any of them will be able to compare to the game ahead of us.  

 

It’s impossible to know what my life would have been like without football. The people, the experience, the challenges; it’s who I am, and not a day goes by without me using what football gave me.

The gender discrimination I faced has never been about whether or not I would be able to play. Sweden is a country where equality between genders is big on the political agenda, but during the time when I was playing, there has always been this debate about women’s football and the comparison to men. From a media point of view, the coverage on women’s football is good, but the angle is always less about sport and more about everything else. When meeting new people, the discussion almost always moved immediately to how the game compares to the men’s. People could never think or discuss or talk or relate to the idea of women playing football in its own right. I’ve witnessed a lot of progress during the years I played, but the field is still not equal.

 

I think that fighting for equality is a fight that will never be won. Not completely. Sweden is one of the most equal societies in the world, but we still have to fight every day, even if the fights are small.

 

I now have three daughters, aged 5, 7 and almost 9. I am so happy that we live in a part of the world where them being girls is not an obstacle. They can’t comprehend the fact that there are girls out there in the world that are not allowed to do the things boys their age do. I hope that they one day will understand what this all means and that I will make them proud. Right now they are more focused on the world record – not the cause. I’m proud of doing this, trying to make a change, if not for my own kids, then for someone else’s.

 

#MyMountain is a great tagline for us.  It works for all the big and small things in our everyday lives that we have to conquer. It also means a challenge but something that is beatable - even if it will take time, strength, stamina, patients and timing. Never impossible, just really tough (and fun)!   

To support the Equal Playing Field players, please visit http://equalplayingfield.com/donate/