PHOTOS | AIDAN T. E. GALASSETTI
WRITING | JEN LOUIE
A few years ago I stumbled across a casual game of soccer wedged on a section of cement between four major roads in Hanoi. They laughed and looked at one another with great concern and/or scepticism as I tied my hair and took off my shoes, communicating that I too wanted to play. Our bare feet collected layers of dirt and raw blisters, and despite my strong defense, quick sprints, and clean passes, they kept pointing at me gasping as one English word rung clear, “Girl?!? Girl!!” Soccer is a universal language but males often take hold of the conversation. Boys are captains at recess who pick girls last. Girls are always danced around during pickup. Men earn higher pay than women, despite all being world-class athletes.
But the conversation is shifting. The United States Women's National Soccer Team have unapologetically taken the mic. In celebration of their recent World Cup win, New York City hosted a ticker-tape parade. People lined Broadway for miles - clogging the sidewalks to a standstill with construction workers peering from worksites up above. In front of us was a father and his three kids decked out in red white and blue pressed their bodies up to the barricade. Across the street sat a row of young girls who looked ready to hop in a game at a moments notice. Young boys cheered loudly wearing jerseys of Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan. This historic moment unleashed a wave of excitement in me. The celebratory energy for what these athletes achieved and represent signify a tiny shift in cultural norms and narratives. And each person alongside me that day on Broadway was a dot in a sea that carried the conversation forward. •