Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public domain
Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public domain
Football and drinking are a constant topic in Melbourne and beyond, even between seasons. Players misbehaving on Turps is a common problem at clubs.
Fan culture seems to demand that you have to drink to watch no matter what. Amateur clubs are no different, perhaps even worse, because they are not subject to any control.
But what about womenIt’s football, and what about women’s amateur football? What is going on there in terms of alcohol, players, gender and club culture?
Monash Ph.D. student Lily Curtis, from the Eastern Health Clinical School in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, closely examined and published a paper in the journal Journal of Sociology.
Professor Steven Roberts from the School of Education, Culture and Society at Monash is co-author. Researchers looked at female players from Melbourne’s suburban amateur clubs in 2020.
Curtis spoke to Lens about what they discovered.
It is interesting to focus on women in amateur football rather than AFLW players and clubs, who would face more scrutiny.
I think if you look at the AFLW, or even the AFL for men, they definitely have different standards, and I think there would be a marked difference between the season and the off-season, whereas in amateur leagues, people can still play on the field. on weekends during the season, which you don’t really get in the professional leagues.
But among the actors we studied, they were opposed to while drinking to be so central to the culture, because they were there to play this sport, to be the best and try to climb the divisions and the ranks. There are obviously other women who are there more for the social side. We saw both.
Was your research based on or influenced by similar research carried out in France on women’s rugby and alcohol consumption?
Absolutely, drinking and consuming alcohol as a way to be part of the team culture and camaraderie, but also not being able to drink too much, because there is still a big difference between the men’s and women’s teams, and the way men and women play. and celebrate and interact.
It was about drinking to become a true sportsman, but then having the sportsmanship, or sportsmanship, to know your limits and understand your role.
“Drinking-induced gender deviant” is what they call it in this article. I found that to be a really interesting tension, which also came up in our interviews.
In Melbourne, you looked closely at four specific themes around alcohol: homosociality or making friends, awareness of appropriateness, men versus women, and women’s cultural priorities.
Yes. Drinking is central to the initial team bond and, for the players I spoke to, every women’s team was part of or linked to a pre-existing men’s team. So they’ve adopted some of these traditionally male drinking norms. They were going to a team event where alcohol was a big part of the event, but what was interesting was that as the team culture grew with the women, the alcohol consumption decreased.
Obviously there was always that element of drinking, especially at parties and club-wide events and things like that. But that was the key to the initial bond and friendship, and then generally faded.
Then in terms of relevance, obviously there were a variety of different experiences, but in general there was a different standard that women felt aware of in terms of gender differences.
When it comes to club-wide celebrations and events, there are coaches, managers and different types of people in different positions of authority, so there has always been that kind of awareness of respect for gender norms. It was interesting. Women said there was definitely a different standard in this regard.
Then there are differences between men and women and “cultural priorities”.
It again goes back to sociality, building friendships, so alcohol is used as a social lubricant, and it’s something that creates bonds, but over time, women have definitely talked about ‘a different set of priorities in that they really wanted to engage in real friendships. aside from just drinking and football, it really creates a stronger team environment with stronger bonds.
While they say the men’s teams were together whether they were playing soccer, practicing for soccer, or drinking with their soccer team.
There was a very clear distinction in this regard. Women had cultural priorities of collectivity and mutuality, so in reality, it was mostly women who talked about always looking out for each other in these situations, on and off the field.
The team I participated in the focus group with was only in their second year of playing together. So they had really laid the foundation of mutual respect and priorities in terms of wanting to distinguish themselves from the men’s team and the team. standards that prevailed in the men’s team, instead of just becoming a women’s team attached to a men’s team that carves its own path and sets new standards.
So the French rugby team and your football team joined a masculine culture but also resisted it?
They both certainly have unique narratives, but that resistance has definitely spread across both sports and both countries. I definitely found that it was something that came up in different ways.
What was unique about the women’s football culture in Melbourne?
Football is so deeply connected to drinking as a participant and as an observer here, but also how we relate to Australian drinking culture more broadly.
I think what’s unique is the space that women have created for themselves. The French rugby journal dates from 2014, so it doesn’t seem that recent, but there is still a definite change in the space that women are allowed to give themselves in the world of sport.
So in a space where alcohol consumption is so central in Australia, the way women are trying to create a new culture there is really interesting.
The newspaper cites an incident in which a male player came to a “Silly Saturday” club function dressed as a specific female player? You write that this is a male performance that minimizes women’s experiences and perspectives.
Yes, and alcohol was the default response: laugh about it, have a few drinks. The team was in its infancy and there was a feeling that even if you wanted to raise issues, they didn’t know where to turn.
But at the same time, your women were more focused on the team, to the point of removing a player who was too hungover?
There was a strong emphasis on physical fitness. With the men’s club teams, the pool is much larger, so there can be five different men’s teams and usually one or two women’s teams.
So if you’re held to a certain standard, but you also bring everyone together, there just isn’t as much room for people who aren’t doing their part, or who are seen as not doing their part. their part.
What are you looking for now?
I’m still studying alcohol culture. I have just finished my first year of doctoral studies. research, which focuses on young people’s experiences of alcohol during COVID.
Given my busy schedule, if I have time to further research on soccerI would love to do that, but right now I’ve shifted my lens a bit to look at young people more broadly throughout COVID.
Lily Curtis et al, Exploring drinking cultures and homosocial relationships in AFL women’s amateur teams, Journal of Sociology (2022). DOI: 10.1177/14407833221093398