I love sport. It makes me feel confident, powerful and it taught me that I can achieve anything as long as I am willing to work for it. Though I’ve been a runner since the age of six, I still encounter people who insist that girls are weak, fragile, and slow.
I met these stereotypes in elementary school. One lunch break I remember seeing a group of boys playing soccer, and seeming like fun, a friend and I became determined to join in. But despite our best efforts to play, they never passed us the ball, and our attempts were ignored. When we confronted them about it, the boys claimed that we would only get hurt while playing “a game for boys” and encouraged us to run along and “do cartwheels” or something of that kind. Even then, I was hurt and knew that the idea of “boys sports” and “girls sports” couldn’t possibly be true.
I decided to take matters into my own hands and arranged a schedule with the head teacher that would allow girls to use the soccer field one day and boys the next. After seeing my friends and I take the field, the boys soon realised that we were more than capable of playing with them and had more to offer than ribbons, curls, and cartwheels.
It saddens me that girls on playgrounds today are still facing stereotypes like I did many years ago. No girl should ever have to hear that she is not good enough to play. Running like a girl doesn’t have to be an insult. For me, it means running with confidence, inner strength, and passion.
To all the girls who have been judged, bullied, or excluded: use that as your motivation. Prove them wrong. You are strong. You are capable. You are good enough. Connect with your inner sisu and show the world how powerful girls really are.
This piece was written by our Community Ambassador Luca Kastner.
At 15 years old, Luca Kastner is proof that you’re never too young to make a difference. Luca is a trail runner, triathlete, and mountain climber with a heart for showing girls in her community just how unstoppable and capable they truly are. She’s currently creating a trail running club for girls in Dubai and hopes to use that platform to change what it means to play “like a girl."