Tessa Howard herself created a historic moment by scoring against Ireland. It was the first goal ever in a major tournament by a hockey player wearing not a skirt but rather track pants. Howard then scored two more goals against Scotland on Tuesday (5-0).
“I am very happy and grateful,” she said after being chosen as the best player in the match. She is one of seven England internationals to play in shorts at the European Championships in Mönchengladbach. Howard: “I feel very comfortable and freer than ever on the field. This is a big step for hockey, but also for the entire women’s movement in sports.
The 24-year-old Englishwoman has personally ensured that hockey players will have freedom of choice in the European Championships, World Cups and Olympic Games from this summer. The uniform uniform was set until the International Hockey Federation (FIH) decided to relax the rules in June.
The immediate cause of this was a study of 400 young women conducted by Howard while he was a sociology student. She wanted to know why only 10% of teenage girls in England did enough sport or exercise. In April, she published her research in a journal on sports, education and society. Conclusion: 70% of participants believe that wearing certain clothes is a reason not to exercise. “Worrying,” Howard thought.
After publicity around her research, things moved quickly. After the FA, the IIHF also quickly changed the dress code. Howard says clothing is too little of a barrier to exercise. “The skirt is sexist. We are now breaking a tradition that dates back to the Victorian era. We are now making our sport more inclusive and breaking down barriers,” says Howard. “Isn’t it crazy that women are allowed to wear pants?”
The discussion has already taken place in many other sports. At the European Beach Handball Championships in 2021, Norwegian players were fined because the team did not play in the mandatory bikini. In beach volleyball, the mandatory bikini was abolished in 2018. At Wimbledon this year, women were allowed to deviate from the traditional white underwear for the first time. Howard: “This discussion is not over yet. For example, there is still a lot of room for improvement in gymnastics, netball and swimming.
The rules have already been amended in the Netherlands
The KNHB Dutch Hockey Association removed skirt or shorts regulations from its rules several years ago. Every Holland club hockey player has the freedom to choose. “We know that this also happens a lot in youth teams, where girls play in trousers. This could also be a boy wearing a skirt,” says KNHB technical director Clarinda Sinije.
The association has now asked Adidas, the clothing sponsor of the national teams, to be prepared to order the supply of competition pants for the best female athletes. Will this question come up? This could be the case, says Shan de Waard, captain of the Dutch team. “We only saw at the European Championships that some Englishmen played in trousers. We didn’t know it was allowed. Then we talked about it with the team. Some will find it cold. We never train in a skirt. Other players prefer to stick to a skirt.”
Her personal opinion? De Ward: “I think it’s great that you can now choose. It’s strange that we still play upskirts, unlike many other sports. You can easily see under the skirt. It’s a thing of the past.”
Netherlands – England in the semi-finals
Dutch hockey players cruised to victory in Group A of the European Championship with a 5-0 win over Italy on Wednesday. As a result, England will be their semi-final opponent on Thursday. The Dutch national team previously defeated Spain (5-1) and Belgium (2-0) in the European Championship. Frederic Matla, Jeppe Janssen (corner kick), Maren Finn and Ben Dicke (twice) scored against Italy.
Finally colorful underwear? At Wimbledon, women’s clothing has always moved with the spirit of the times
Female tennis players will only be allowed to wear stark white colored underwear at Wimbledon for the first time this year. However, players’ clothing has been liberalized for a century and a half.
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