What Katie really did
Last week was a very sporting week on Gaelick. Hear from new Gaelick writer, Niamh, why women’s sport is muy importante!
Nine years old and I stood on the sideline as my dad threw an oversized jersey on my 6 year old brother. I was bigger and stronger than my little brother. I was more skillful. I was faster. But I had a ponytail!
My dad said no, my uncle said throw her on, my dad was stubborn, he wouldn’t budge. I pulled my baseball cap down over my face so no one would see me cry. There was no ladies football team in our club so I didn’t end up playing until I was twenty, how would I have been if I had started playing when I was nine? And then I wonder would my dad have thrown me on if there had been a Katie Taylor around when was I nine?
As a primary school teacher I hear wonderful little gems everyday from my kids. Last year teaching first class we were writing about our hopes for the future. A little boy wrote three amazing lines that made my heart jump around:
I hope I grow up to be like Katie Taylor. I want to go to the Olympics like her. I hope she wins a gold medal.
That’s what I love so much about what Katie Taylor has done. She has become the hero not just of little girls, but little boys as well.
I think that is the real success story. I think it’s very safe to say that she is the first Irish female athlete to become a hero for young boys.
When I was about five or six I ran home crying and kicked my mother in the shins because I was born a girl and for that reason the boys wouldn’t let me join in the soccer game (It sounds like I had a terrible childhood, I really did have fun honestly!!).
But as a teacher now and seeing the way children interact with each other I can honestly say I see a huge difference in the way young boys and girls play together. There’s no condescending voices on the pitch “wow she can actually kick a ball”, “I can’t tackle her she’s a girl”, or the usual “ahahaha johnny you got tackled by a girl!” No they just play together. They accept it.
Why wouldn’t they? What difference does it make if she’s a girl or not? Who cares? If Paddy Barnes can spar with Katie Taylor then why can’t I slide tackle Mary from across the road?
When I jumped around the sitting room like an eejit when Katie won gold, my brother just laughed at my little feminist self asking me why I was making such a big deal out of it. I told him that story from when I was nine, my dad blushed and of course denied that he would ever do such a thing. I said it’s a big deal because no one can ever say no to a little girl ever again.
No one can ever tell her she’s too small, or too pretty to get hurt. No one can ever say that people don’t care about women in sport.
Katie Taylor won gold, the country was at a standstill, the economy was boosted, SBB cried and mothers and fathers drove their precious little daughters into grimy boxing clubs all over the country.
So it’s more than just than medal. It’s more than just women in boxing. It’s about a culture change.
Everyone is asking what will Katie do next; I’m asking what will the young girls of Ireland do next. My hopes know no bounds!
Go raibh míle maith agat, Katie girl!!