(by Matilde Anghinoni) Screaming “no girls, no rugby,” the national women’s rugby tour makes a three-day stop in Sona (Municipality of Verona) to fight the gender gap. The U12-14-16 and 18 women’s youth competitions, as well as the retreat for the national rugby team, will take place at the West Verona Rugby Union field on Sunday, October 9.
Rugby has traditionally been seen as a male-dominated sport and despite persistent misconceptions that women are weak, frail, and have to maintain a “lovely” look even when participating in sports, the female rugby community is making great strides in reclaiming its rightful place in society. While there were only 20 Veronese under-14s participating in the event last year, this year 80 girls will hit the field to train. In Italy, there are 6300 girls and women who play rugby and despite these improvements, the numbers show once again that there is still much work to be done.
The Gender Gap in sports: the numbers
According to Terres des Hommes, the organization promoting the national tour, male participation in sports among children aged 11 to 14 is 65.9%, compared to 56.8% for females. The percentages rise to 58.4% for men and 42.6 percent for women in the 15–17 age range. And the male-to-female ratio settles at 47.4% in the post-18 age group, compared to 31.9 percent.
The statistics do not show significant variances among younger age groups, however, in managerial positions a marked difference in gender can be clearly noted. Women occupy only 19.8% of coaching positions, 15.4% of club management positions, 12.4% of federation management positions, and 18.2% of “match officials” in Italy.
This is precisely the aim of the women’s rugby festival: raise awareness among younger women to create a more gender-equal leadership class for the future.
The new provincial team
The new provincial team was presented yesterday, hoping to become a landmark in the area. One jersey, one coat of arms, one colour; a project that aims to be a long-lasting partnership between regional and local institutions. The team will bring together all clubs in Verona and Trento to promote sports inclusion, starting with girls wearing red t-shirts with the province’s logo. The training location for next year will be Sona, the municipality with the most rugby members, but the project’s creators hope to rotate the venue frequently throughout the province, attracting more and more members.