Just venting my frustration…
The Belgian Swimming Federation (KBZB) just forbade mixed teams in water polo youth competitions. But in teeny-weeny Belgium, most swimming clubs don’t have enough girls to form a full all-female team! That means that those girls – formerly playing in mixed teams – are no longer allowed to participate in competitions!
Their reason? They want “to protect the integrity of the girls” because the “physiological differences” would become to big and this would pose problems. This really made me think of the recent debate concerning girls’ dress code in schools. ⇒ The guardian
Instead of banning girls from competing, the KBZB should stop victim-blaming and set a good example instead of reinforcing social stereotypes!
Knack posted an interesting article (in Dutch) about this topic and not much later the KBZB published a second statement in which it confronted the article. Yet I think the statement is even more ridiculous!
First of all because the KBZB states that as neither the LEN nor the FINA organize any official water polo competitions for mixed-gender teams (not even in the youngest categorizes) there is not a single reason why the KBZB should. Yet I think there is a huge reason why they should: the 170 girls who are crazy about their sport, who want to participate in competitions and who should be given a chance!
© Jasper Verschelde (BZK)
On top of that, I personally do think that FINA is ready for change and would approve of mixed youth competitions! Mixed gender events were introduced both in synchronized swimming, synchronized diving and relays. How cool is that? I agree that these sports are not “contact sports” like water polo, but still… there should be a way…
After all, isn’t promoting sport and encouraging young people very important? And let me tell you, for many people there is no better motivation than an upcoming tournament.
Furthermore, the statement also includes this: “Obviously, the KBZB doesn’t have an issue with mixed water polo per se, as long as it is recreational. Regional swimming federations should thus support similar activities and provide such activities to their members and clubs.”
But… dear KBZB… Then what about “protecting the integrity of the girls”? It does matter for national championships… but not for recreational games? I think it’s interesting that the second statement doesn’t mention this reason anymore.
Anyway… Sorry for my rant… I just feel so bad for all those amazing girls who aren’t allowed to play with their teammates any longer. I think it’s a ridiculous decision that goes against our modern values. We should provide our youth with equal opportunities, regardless of gender.