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When results matter, gender doesn’t
Earlier this week I was named as member of the support team for the Nanjing Youth Olympics from August 16 - 28. I will be assisting the young and determined chef de mission, Kwanieze John, in organising the sports medicine aspect of the tour. It is a role that I am honoured and excited to take on.
Interestingly and usually worthy of note in today’s society, it is a team of women that has been formally appointed. As a woman, I would clearly have a vested interested in seeing the propulsion of women in leading roles in today’s society and this interest extends to the sporting arena. Like my sister, Tineke, who represented T&T in the Miss World pageant in 2006, during which time she incorporated elements of female participation in sport in her platform, I too would like to see more females committing seriously to sport and even making international headlines the way our male counterparts do.
During the press conference we were asked how the group of us saw ourselves filling our roles and having an impact as a flush of four Queens taking the lead on this operation. I refrained from answering and allowed Kwanieze to represent us collectively but I knew that I wanted to express my personal perspective here, on my own platform.
The issue of gender in the sport industry still exists, whether consciously or subconsciously and this is not just a local problem but global so that, there is nothing unique about T&T’s gender division. This however has never been something that I allowed to bother me and I wonder if that is the very reason why I have been afforded the opportunities I have acquired in my career both in the USA and locally.
I was the first female athletic trainer to work with the men’s basketball team at my NCAA Division I University. I was also allowed to work with our American football team in both the fall and spring seasons one year, something that was not typically allowed. As it would turn out, my first job out of university was with a United Hockey League team as the team athletic trainer, again a role that not many females filled. Sometimes karma does that.
Since I have been back home, I have continued this modus operandi of not fighting the “boy’s club” mentality and last year I was afforded the chance to be the only female therapist working with a CPL team. It is not my inclination to take on an aggressive feminist campaign simply because there are so many opportunities for improvement and development in the sports industry locally that where my skills set is either unwelcomed or not needed, I do not bother wasting my time trying to offer it. Like a drug addict, unless desire to improve a situation is welcomed, however small or large, it will either never happen or at best, be short-lived. So, why bother? Besides that, there are many men who support women being in leading roles if they are the best fit for it. As such, I gravitate to these broader minds.
This TTOC assigned opportunity was given to me based on the evaluations of other men and women who thought I would be a good fit for the position. I also recognise that in order to achieve my goals in this position, I will require the commitment of other men and women. As the first five introduced, all being female, I have to admit that it was something that I too took note of but the weight behind it is minimal because I believe in outcomes, not perceptions. These selections were not made by chance but by design and while some may be tempted to assign praise or criticism as they see fit before we are even out the gate, time will prove that we were deserving of the responsibilities we were given and when this happens, all will know that we were selected not because of our gender but because we were capable.
It is a great responsibility we have all been given, particularly young Kwanieze, but wars were not fought nor won by one man or woman and the success of this five will pivot on our ability to do our job and communicate effectively as a team with each other and with those who are yet to join us. Our combined experiences will serve us well in our quest to prove that it is not about gender but about results.
Asha De Freitas-Moseley is a certified athletic trainer with the National Athletic Trainers’ Association of the USA. She has over 10 years of experience rehabilitating athletes and members of the active population from injury to full play. She can be reached at Pulse Performance Ltd., located at #17 Henry Pierre St., St. James. Tel: 221-2437.