Tag Archives: Vakhegula Vakhegula/Grannies Grannies

Updates: Caster Semenya, Iranian girls’ team, and Grannies Grannies

When I come across additional information or small updates to a story I have been following, I typically add it at the bottom of the original post in an “update” box. The problem with this is that nobody gets a notification, so unless you’re a new (or obsessive) reader you’re not going to see it. I’m going to try something new today: a “roundup”.

Here’s what’s going on in my world:

1) Caster Semenya has (finally) been cleared to race “as a woman”.
You all know what I think about this (for those just joining us, go here), but I do want to add that the IAAF is not disclosing any details. Their statement was brief (or “terse”, according to Barry Petchesky, author of
Explaining The Caster Semenya Decision, Because The IAAF Won’t,” published on Deadspin), which makes a wrap-up difficult. Suffice to say that I still see this as a sad chapter, and one we will regret.

2) Iranian girls team may be banned from youth tournament… again.
You will remember that back in April 2010, FIFA banned the Iranian girls’ team from competing in the Youth Olympic Football Tournament based on the fact that the players were beholden by their religion to wear hijab (head scarves). Cue (righteous) outrage. By early May FIFA had about-faced and allowed the girls to play in a game-modified uniform.

A month passes.

Iran may not send its girls’ football team to the Youth Olympics in Singapore next month because of a dispute over the players’ Islamic attire, Iranian media reported on Thursday. The deputy head of Iran’s physical education department, Marzieh Akbarabadi, was quoted by newspapers, including Khabar Varzeshi, or Sport News, as saying the newly designed dress was “inappropriate.” [The uniform] was unveiled during a practice session on Wednesday, which Akbarabadi, who is in charge of all women’s sports in Iran, left in protest.
– Nasser Karimi, “Iran girls’ football team may miss Singapore event,” Associated Press (July 8, 2010)

You know what? I said this before and I say it again, and this time with feeling: Let them play! These girls are athletes. They’ve trained (despite mighty opposition) to become good enough to qualify, yet all around are powers-that-be lining up to play Daddy to them.

I am not qualified to comment on the rightness or wrongness of hijab, but I can tell you with utter certainty that these players should be accommodated. No person should be forced to cast aside one love (football) for another (one’s religion).

3) Grannies Grannies find a way
Way back on the first day of the World Cup I wrote about Vakhegula Vakhegula (Grannies Grannies), a South African soccer team comprised of women between the ages of 49 and 84. A month ago they were hoping to inspire South African president Jacob Zuma to provide the finances to send the team to compete at the Veteran’s Cup, a tournament for teams with players of 30 years and older that takes place in Lancaster, Massachusetts (Source: “For the Love of Soccer and a Lasting Sisterhood“, New York Times, June 6, 2010). Apparently Zuma left their exhibition game without seeing their victory (8-0, defeating the Waterfall Grannie Soccer team).

Yesterday Herbalife (Yes, that Herbalife) issued a press release:

Herbalife Ltd. has teamed up with the United States Adult Soccer Association…, the Massachusetts Adult State Soccer Association (MASS), the Veterans Cup committee… and the Lexpressas women’s soccer team to help the Vakhegula-Vakhegula soccer team come to America to compete in the annual Veteran’s Cup tournament this week.
– “Soccer Grannies to Compete in Veteran’s Cup,” Marketwatch, July 13, 2010

Apparently, in return the players will play in jerseys sporting the Herbalife logo. Zuma missed a brilliant opportunity. He could have been the dream-maker. It’s a shame but it’s his loss. Grannies Grannies found a way despite his indifference.

Who’s up for a road trip to Lancaster? I hear there’s some world-class soccer going on.


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Merry Pitchmas

This morning, Toronto feels different. Folks aren’t at work – they’re on the patios and in the streets. They’re watching TVs on their stoops and sharing barbeque and beer with their neighbours. There’s an expectant, optimistic, celebratory atmosphere that I can feel even in solitude in my home. It’s like Christmas for football fans. It’s Pitchmas.

This morning as I made coffee the foamer on my counter-top espresso machine vied for sonic domination but succumbed to the eternal drone of thousands of vuvuzelas. Twenty-two of the world’s finest players danced the ball across the pitch. I cheered and gasped. I was be-goosebumped.

In line with my very personal (or, according to friend and soccer blogger Zach Strauss, shamefully indecisive) approach to the beautiful game, I’ll be reporting on World Cup goings-on in my typically tangential way. I’ll leave the game commentary in Zach’s able hands. Any match that requires auto-defibrillation – twice! – is an hour and a half well-spent. Oh, and also, South Africa’s jerseys are king.

On this first day of Pitchmas I bring you a gift: On June 6, the New York Times ran a story about South Africa’s Vakhegula Vakhegula (Grannies Grannies), a soccer team made up of women between the ages of 49 and 84.

Vakhegula Vakhegula

Vakhegula Vakhegula, photo from the New York Times

Read the story. It’ll take 10 minutes of your time and will fill you with soccer-y goodness. The next 30 days will be a feast of technically exquisite football – the football of demigods. And – lucky us! –  because this game is loved everywhere and by everyone, it will also be a celebration of the football of the people.

UPDATE: Two-page feature, “They kick like grannies, proudly” on Vakhegula Vakhegula from the Los Angeles Times.

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