Kick Like A Girl – A Documentary

I’ve coached girls in soccer, either as part of coed teams or on girls travel teams, for a number of years now. Yet it’s still an amazing learning experience as a coach, especially as a male coach, every day. Probably the toughest coaching job I’ve had was coaching a coed U10 Rec team that had a number of talented girls and boys on it, most destined for travel teams when they got older. Dealing with the dynamic between the girls and boys, the differences in their competitive spirit and motivations, ensuring the girls had opportunities to shine, and making sure the boys didn’t act like, well, boys – ignoring open girls when passing, etc. – was extremely difficult. It was also very rewarding.

So when I saw a note on Twitter about a new soccer documentary called ‘Kick Like A Girl‘, directed by Jenny Mackenzie, I was intrigued. The documentary tracks the experiences of a 3rd Grade (U9) girls soccer team called “The Mighty Cheetahs” that moves to the boys division seeking stronger competition. Now, this is not as uncommon as many people think. Talented girls teams in smaller leagues will often play in boys divisions if their league lacks a dedicated player development program where they can play against teams of similar skill. But recording much of the season and being able to make a documentary about it is special:

Anyone who is really into youth soccer will tell you that most volunteers always wonder how other programs or teams are doing X or Y. It’s a curiosity that arises from a desire to make their own team/program/league better. So having the experiences of a team documented is interesting enough. When the scenario happens to be the girls playing the boys, that’s a perfect combination. The film is narrated by “Lizzie”, one of the young players on “The Mighty Cheetahs”, which is a neat idea.

Almost all of the girls on my 96 travel team came from coed teams and knew what playing with the boys was all about. The good and the bad. I spend a lot of time trying to counter the bad in our Rec program with ‘girls scrimmages’ and clinics for younger girls with the older travel players mentoring. I see the situations and difficulties girls face growing up playign with the boys every day. So I’m looking forward to seeing this film – both to see how others handled the situation and how the girls reacted and grew from the experience.

Funny tidbit – when one of our coaches wanted to give younger girls on our coed Rec teams a chance to play with just girls to get a feel for it, he called the informal program ‘Kick It Like A Girl’. It was very successful and I probably should write about it sometime!

Look for the premiere on HBO May 28th, 2009. Here is the film’s website (Warning – the trailer auto plays!) and also their entry in IMDB. The director of the film noted in an email that the DVDs should be available in late June. Should be fun!

H/T @stickersisters

UPDATE: I’d be remiss if I didn’t share my own little tale of the girls taking on the boys when my U10 Rec Team participated in the NC Recreation State Cup. Lot of fun.

Leave a Reply

  1. That is cool! Thanks for sharing. I am going to pass it along to my players. I would imagine the WPS will get a hold of it at some point and be promoting soon.

  2. I agree. Are you following Peter Wilt, Chicago Red Stars CEO, on Twitter? Send it to him and I am sure he would be active in showing it to the league if they haven’t already seen it yet.

  3. I forget who exactly I’m following in the WPS. More of the team accounts, not sure if I have Peter followed directly. I passed on the league info to the film’s director as she may have already made contacts.

  4. I love it Mike, thanks. Our rec league is co-ed though mostly with boy players (70/30). One of the top three U8 players is a girl, though, Nina, and as we set up teams for this spring season, everyone is vying to get her on their team. My kids will love the movie when it comes out.

  5. Thanks for sharing this.

    I have a U7 daughter that I coach. She has shown some early stages of promise and a desire to learn.

    She will love watching this since she plays on a team of boys as well. She says she likes playing with boys because they are tough. Thankfully, I have a goup of boys that respect her talents enough to pass to her (as well as the other girl on the team).

    Excellent find!

  6. Tim – glad to see other leagues with similar ratios as ours. We hover around 60/40 at all ages in Rec. Has been that way for 8 years now. I know younger girls have other outlets like dance and cheer that go year round that boys don’t normally, but I’ve always wondered if that was really why. Would be an interesting demographics study.

  7. Marcus – that’s great that you have a team of boys who will include her in the play more often than not. We’ve had epic debates among the coaches about coed vs split at the younger ages, but the vast majority continue to believe that coed works (as do I) I think it helps the girls in terms of fear of the ball and aggression. When they finally make the jump to all girls teams at U10 (if they make travel teams), it helps them. But the coed coaches have to be constantly vigilant to ensure the girls are involved and not getting hidden on the wing. For the most part – they are and it works well.