It’s no real mystery that us ladies need to step up our game. Of the 48 teams in the double elimination tournament at Worlds, there were only two teams with women on them (badass women at that), but I think we can do way better. Here are some things that ladies and dudes need to do to help more women get tournament ready.
Stop Treating Us Like Girls
One of the the things I noticed is that dudes don’t tend to do very much checking to the ladies. I’m not saying to be a total dickbag and start checking the shit out of all the ladies in your Club, but you need to start treating the tournament bound ladies like you would male players. This includes being rough, because a lot of us need to harden the fuck up. One of my favorite compliments (that could go as either a compliment or an insult really), was being told by one of our super bangin’ SF players that he doesn’t take it easy on me and checks me as hard as he checks the dudes. As much as it makes me want to roll my eyes into the back of my head, I took the compliment as being a player who can take some shit.
But I’m a Girl
The one thing that rubs me worse than any other, is when female players expect to be treated different. NO YOU SHOULDN’T. Plain and simple, if you want to be a competitive player in a co-ed sport, there should be no false expectation that you should be treated differently because of your gender. The NAH rules have been created and revised a thousand times in order to ensure that players remain as safe as possible. If this isn’t enough to ease your mind about being checked into the boards, then I suggest a Machine style pad job where you are wearing such a plentiful amount of padding that the sheer size of your shoulders causes your opponents to tremble.
Pick Ladies for Your Teams
In one of the pre-Ladies Army V interviews, I read that even though a woman may be as good as a male player, the male player will almost always get picked over the female player because it is assumed he is better. Listen dudes, compatibility should not be gender specific, so quit ignoring the ladies in your Club and ask them to join your team in a tournament!
The Goalie Comfort Zone
It sucks feeling like you are no good up front, but sitting in goal isn’t going to help. This is essentially the topic of the recent Lancaster article. From a tournament perspective, its essential to be decent in goal. Not only does this give you a break when you push it offensively, but it allows your team to switch up offensive plays making it harder for the other team to defend you. (YAY!) It took me a while in pick up to break myself of just sitting in goal or hanging back while my teammates played forward. The look of that empty goal just scared me a little, but then I realized it was just pick up and I had two other teammates who were equally to blame for the open goal. The more you play up the better you get at it, just the facts ladies, so get on out there! What has bummed me out the most this year, was participating in a tournament where one of the female players got yelled at for coming out of goal. She made a great play by coming out of goal at the perfect time and went to take the ball to our end of the court. She didn’t make the shot, and her teammate told her to get back to goal.
I often feel that it’s a continual struggle to prove I’m not complete crap when it comes to polo, and I know other ladies feel the same way. It’s important to be vocal about wanting to get better in your Club and ask questions about being tournament ready, this took me a while to figure out. Not to say that all of the above is going to make ladies more dominant in tournament play, but I do think it will help up even the playing field.
Author: Sam Bell
Photos courtesy of Liam Gilson