Friday, February 6, 2015

Sports for Girls in Nicaragua: Otra Vez

Cones instead of lines, trash on the field, and hopeful girls.
In Nicaragua the "summer" break starts just before Christmas and lasts until about now. During that time, kids are left to languish... the girls hanging out watching their siblings, the boys carting off to baseball practice on Saturdays and playing ball in the streets. If there is anything that can get my feminist fire going, it is thinking about the lack of opportunities for girls to play sports here. As if this was the 1950's America and girls were expected to only love studying home-ec. As if girls didn't have the strength, power and wit to throw a ball around like the boys.

I am sure part of it is economic, part cultural. Baseball -- and all sports -- cost parents money, and right now that scarce money is spent on the boys, if it's spent at all. On the cultural side, women here tend to be so much more feminine. Even when they live in homes with dirt floors, they'll put makeup on to go out anywhere. Women who have money, meanwhile, don't go anywhere without freshly-coiffed hair, shiny skin rubbed with coconut oil or fragrant lotions, sparkly jewelry, heeled shoes and perfectly pressed clothing. If they do work out, it is dancing or Zumba or aerobics -- not so much sports or weight lifting or running, like women back home might do. Women do ride bikes to get from point A to B here, but when given the chance, they'll ride side saddle on the frame and let the men do the pedaling.

Being here this long and seeing those women in contrast to the North American women who visit is definitely interesting; it's clear that North American women as a whole take a lot less care with their appearance -- especially when they're suddenly flung into a hot climate where makeup tends to run and white girl hair tends to frizz.

But i digress. For whatever reason, girls here are not taught to be sporty or to develop confidence in their ability to kick, throw and run like boys do. Except, of course, the girls who are involved in FĂștbol Sin Fronteras, the soccer organization we found almost immediately when we got here. While there are some other teams, this organization serves the girls who might not otherwise seek out or be able to afford playing sports. It cheers me to see them here working with so many girls who really need it -- though they too have taken some time off during this annual break.

After two months of "summer," the rebelangel goes back to playing again today. She's looking forward to playing more competitive sports again back home, but for now, she at least has this.
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If you're in need of a way to get your kids more active -- even from home -- check out Yuvi Story Aerobics, encouraging kids to get up and move!

And since "summer" is long and you might need other things to do when it hits, check out Trailera -- a site where you can see nearly any movie trailer. 


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