By Leila Stein
Amy Distiller and Ruby Snaid are two girls defying gender expectations in sport as part of the Grass Boots Football Club’s inclusive Under12A team.
Amy, who is in Grade 7 at Herzlia Middle School, and Ruby in Grade 6 at Herzlia Highlands Primary, both have a passion for soccer. Their incredible skill has seen them promoted to the club’s inclusive boys team, which looks past the sport’s standard gender divides.
Ruby first took up a position in the team early, joining when she was only in Grade 1.
“Coach Thurston and his fellow coaches were always encouraging and nurturing and teaching me new skills. My position is right wing and I love sprinting down the wing and providing assists to making goals and scoring goals too” says Ruby.
Amy was inspired by Ruby, training together with her in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic took everyone off the pitch for a while.
“I played during the summer a little, once restrictions had eased. After the hard lockdown, my brother Ruben and I would have one on one training with Coach Thurston. Then Ruby joined us, and thus the chaos of our friendship began. Then the actual season started, and I became a part of the Grass Boots under 12A team,” explains Amy.
However, joining a mixed-gendered soccer team didn’t come without some nerves.
“I was very nervous about joining the team, not really knowing anyone there except Ruby, but I didn’t expect to get onto the A team. So I had sort of assumed before that I wouldn’t be training with her,” Amy explains, “There have been a couple of moments where being one of the very few girls has been awkward, but that disappeared when I became part of this team.”
This feeling of camaraderie with teammates is echoed by Ruby, “Sometimes at the beginning of a match I find it slightly intimidating to play a team of all boys. It can feel physically daunting. However once I start playing I relax into it and then it’s ok. This season it’s been a great comfort to know Amy is in the team with me.”
While joining an integrated team is a first for both girls, as Amy explains, playing with people across ages and genders has been part of her life since she first picked up soccer.
“I can’t remember never having loved some sort of soccer. When I was younger and my family would go out for dinner, or dinner parties, there would often be people kicking the ball around. Once I could get over the fact that they were either older than me, or that I was the only girl, I’d have a blast surprising everyone by sometimes getting the ball.”
Both girls want their inclusion in this team and their hard work in this sport to inspire others to join them on the soccer field.
“If you’re thinking about getting involved, but have nerves, or are ambivalent, I say go for it! Worst case scenario, if you hate it you can leave, but you might love it; and if you don’t try you’ll never know,” says Amy.
“I hope to encourage many more girls to try out and experience The Beautiful Game,” says Ruby.
• Published in the PDF edition of the November 2021 issue – Click here to get it.
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