Pure Joy and a Sports Bra! It's All About the Team
Well I couldn't resist taking that headline from The Guardian from their article about what will become known as 'that' Euro 2022 picture. Whilst that discussion centres on what our bodies can do in terms of power and skill, rather than being the centre of objectification, there is so much more to this picture. Whilst I definitely see strength, power, joy, and a sports bra...I see a team. The joy of scoring a goal because it is for your side, your country, and not an individual pursuit.
[photograph Michael Regan/Getty Images]
When my daughter was 4 years old, she was selected to go into 'Elite Gymnastics' after just 2 weeks at a local recreational gymnastics club. She trained on floor, beam, bars and vault, but it was a scary world. Her on her own, trying to be the best individual in a highly demanding and challenging sport. At the age of 6 she was 'dropped' from artistic gymnastics (as the 4 piece is known), however recognising her strength and capability, she was offered a place in an elite 'TeamGym' squad, and what a wonderful outcome it was. This was not something we had ever come across before, but its ethos is just wonderful. Gymnasts compete in 3 disciplines (floor, trampette and tumble), but as a team. Just like the women in the England Football Team, every landing is a team landing, every triumph a team triumph, and in every fall you are carried by others. It is something to behold.
They took home a gold medal at the British Championships in 2021 against all odds, with Covid decimating the team, and not knowing until the day before whether they would have enough members to compete. 6 months later, with a total team restructure and being young in the next age category, they came home with a bronze. Young women aged between 13 and 16, adapting, growing, supporting and championing each other to success, time and again. It works because of how they interact as a team - from the gymnasts, to the club, to the coaches.
When I watched my daughter at the British Championships, and I watched the England Football Team in the Euros Final, it was incredible. The cohesion, the understanding, the support, the strength and the free spirited celebration at the end. Women playing by their rules, their way. It was joyous to see how the football team couldn't stand still to be interviewed at the end, needing to dance and hug instead. Brilliant to see the goal scorer's bra labels hanging out the back just like mine would, and wonderful to see the faces of all those young girls and boys in the crowd being inspired by a team doing what teams do best.
In a world dominated by competition and one-upmanship, it is a great reminder to see what can happen when we share our skills and teach others and learn from others, when we pool our ideas and resources, and leverage our collective strength and wisdom. Any rewards are all the sweeter for having others to share them with, and losses diluted through not having to shoulder a burden alone.
It is the team that brings the joy, and in case you forget your sports bra, one of your team mates is bound to have a spare in their bag x