It has been said that most women play professional soccer purely for the love of the game or for the experience of it. Most women’s professional soccer players don’t get paid very much and in some cases the facilities and training situations are less than idea. So why do they play? Well, because they love to! And maybe it was a dream since their childhood to play professional soccer, and now they have that opportunity. The same was likely true for the ladies on the Dick, Kerr women’s soccer team.
Gail Newsham did a splendid job of sharing the history and the story of the Dick, Kerr ladies in her book In A League of Their Own. She uncovered the expansive history of the most successful women’s professional soccer team in their time and arguably of all time, and through interviews, newspaper clippings, and journal entries, shared a behind the scenes look into the lives of the players and the ins and outs of the life of the team.
Throughout her book, Newsham emphasizes how the ladies got next to nothing out of playing for this team besides the chance to compete and play a game they love and to gain experiences they never would have otherwise encountered (not to mention the small compensation that were given for missed days of work). But the mere fact that they had to work on the side of being professional soccer players just goes to show how much they had to love to play the game which didn’t give them much in return. The long hours of traveling, the difficulty in finding good fields and competition, the stigma surrounding females in sport, and for some, disapproving families or significant others; these were just some of the challenges that the Dick, Kerr ladies had to face to play their game. But in spite of all this, it was clear from the pictures and the stories, the journal entries and the fond memories shared, that being a part of the Dick, Kerr ladies was by a long shot, worth any difficulties that came their way. Those women loved to play and so, they weren’t going to let anything stop them.
This idea of loving to play can be seen in the world’s modern day professional women’s soccer players. Women in soccer today face many of the same struggles as the Dick, Kerr ladies although great strides have been made in the progress of women’s soccer. It is not unusual for women’s professional players to hold jobs outside of their soccer careers, and there is still difficulty for women to find good facilities as well as overcoming stigmas about females in sports that still arise on occasion. But the love of the game overshadows all these obstacles and it’s the pure and simple joy that the game of soccer brings to people that has helped it progress from the Dick, Kerr ladies of England in the early 1900s to the world wide women’s professional soccer sphere of today.