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Commentary: 'Sexist' futsal league rules — there're better ways to tackle gender discrimination in co-ed sports

When it comes to true equality, game play rules of any kind should protect both men and women, with no special concessions made for either side, says footballer Grace Ke.

Football fans will likely have heard of the Red Bull Neymar Jr’s Mixed Five, where there are no concessions given to neither female nor male players. Grassroots leagues in Australia do not have special rules catered to protecting female players either.

It would behoove D2D Sports to reference these leagues in their next season, making the game fair for all players. Men should not be afraid to tackle women as part of game play, and women are more than capable of taking hits. It is a contact sport, after all.

While any gender-specific rules were understandably set in place with good intentions, they do put out the message that the protection of female players matters more than their participation. Female players who have been training and playing consistently can more than hold their own on the pitch alongside their male counterparts.


The truth is, all versions of football can get ugly, not just the professional iterations we see on TV. Here in Singapore, Sunday League regulars have seen ambulances and even the police called in — but this happens in both all-male and all-female competitions.

Nevertheless, all amateur football players in Singapore must keep in mind that, regardless of gender, this is a recreational league with no cash prize. Every one of us needs to return to work and family responsibilities the next day, with as few injuries as possible.

Criticism aside, D2D Sports deserves commendation for bravely venturing into unknown waters. For its next season, organisers should consider structuring games so that every goal scored is recorded as a goal, regardless of who scored it.

Aggressive or malicious players should also be banned, regardless of gender.

Equality is simple: The rules should be the same for both men and women. Scoring goals takes skill and effort for any player. Injuries hurt the same for any person.

Players who choose to take part in such competitions should and must first understand the consequences of participating in any contact sport with peers of any gender. Players should and must also remember that sporting events such as this will not win them Olympic medals — these are opportunities for us to put our egos aside, and focus on sportsmanship and good skill.

Rules of any kind should protect both men and women, with no special concessions made for either side. That is true equality.


Grace Ke is a recreational football player of eight years and a former coach at Spartans Boxing Club. She is the creator and host of Naked.Graced., a forthcoming podcast where she talks about fitness, mental health, and living wholeheartedly through vulnerability.

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