Coaches Across Continents volunteer Marie Margolius writes about her first week in Mexico City with Street Soccer Mexico.
January 20th 2015. During our second day in Mexico City, Anna and I ran the afternoon session on Female Empowerment. Before taking the field after lunch, we led a short off-field discussion about the rights of women and how the Street Soccer Mexico coaches can foster gender equal environments on the field. The issue of gender inequality was not initially identified as a priority for Street Soccer Mexico, but during our discussion of the abuse and inequality that women face all around the world, it became clear that gender inequality was a main issue in Mexico, too. The most chilling and inspiring revelation of this truth came when one woman by the name of Lasalia, who had not spoken the entire week, stood up and made a heartfelt, passionate announcement. With a twinge of frustration and a sense of urgency in her voice, Lasalia told her (mostly male) peers:
“People often think that women in Mexico don’t face the types of abuses that other women around the world face, but in reality they do. Now in Mexico we have more assaults of young girls than people think, but because these girls are often very young they don’t or can’t talk about it. So yes, there is mistreatment of women by men, but the women are silenced by their male older partners who abuse them. It’s different in every country, but it’s a problem in our country, too.”
Although the Street Soccer Mexico director and strategists didn’t initially identify gender inequality as a relevant issue in their areas, when Lasalia began speaking about the reality of the gender situation in Mexico, she was met with sincere concern and respect from the Street Soccer Mexico staff. This response was both encouraging and indicative of Street Soccer Mexico’s open-mindedness and ability to challenge norms and traditions in the name of social progress.
Lasalia’s speech gave the CAC staff chills, and Street Soccer Mexico’s response warmed our hearts. We couldn’t have asked for a better group of coaches for our first week in Mexico! Off to Guadalajara to work with the Rafa Marquez Foundation!!