Women’s sports are having a moment — not the kind of moment that will pass, but the kind that will be remembered and reflected on.
Nearly every day there is another breaking story that illustrates another glass ceiling shattered, or another historic milestone reached. Be it when Kelsie Whitmore became the first woman to start in an Atlantic League game, or when the Barcelona Femení beat their own record for the most attended women’s soccer match in history with 91,648 spectators at Camp Nou. Or — you get the idea.
Even as I’m sitting here typing this column, news broke that FIFA, the governing body for world soccer, named three women among the 36 referees chosen to officiate at the men’s World Cup in Qatar later this year, and three more in the group of assistants. This year’s tournament, the most high-profile soccer event in the world, could be the first with a game refereed by a woman.
With so much happening in the world of women’s sports, we found it important to not let these moments pass without recognition. For too long, that’s exactly what we’ve done.
That’s why we are creating a space to talk about all of it. The highs and lows. The new and the old. From the business side of sports, to youth development. From the pros, to the rec leagues. There is no topic off limits, and we are eager to highlight these stories with you, our reader.
Along the way, you’ll also get to know me — Melanie Anzidei, a former college soccer player who is eager to find forgotten or under-reported sports stories, and bring them to the forefront for the world to see. And, don’t be shy — if you’ve got a tip on an athlete from North Jersey who should be noted in the column, no matter how young they are or how old, please drop me a line at [email protected].
Each week, we will focus on a different timely topic or theme in women’s sports. We will also take the time to highlight some of the work we’ve done — such as the stories our high school sports staff have written focusing on how Title IX shaped sports in North Jersey.
We’ll re-introduce you to some of our favorite female athletes paving the way in New Jersey — like soccer legend Carli Lloyd, who now owns a minority stake in Gotham FC; or Alexia Jorge, a rising sophomore at St. Elizabeth University and one of only a handful of women in the United States to play baseball in college.
You’ll hear about teams, too, like the women’s baseball club at Montclair State University or New Jersey City University’s women’s wrestling team. There will be no shortage of athletes you’ll get to know.
We will kick off this column next week with a look at what will likely stand as the most historic moment in women’s sports in 2022: the news that the United States women’s and men’s national teams secured landmark contracts with the U.S. Soccer Federation that will guarantee, for the first time, equal pay.
The contract includes, among a slew of other things, pooling the unequal prize money that U.S. Soccer receives from FIFA and splitting it evenly. After six years of “equal pay” chants ringing through stadiums across the world and, in 2019, down the Canyon of Heroes — equality has finally been reached.
And what more perfect time than now to keep this conversation going — one month shy of the 50th anniversary of the passing of Title IX? The landmark anniversary has opened the door for reflecting on how far we’ve come, and how far we need to go.
And, we assure you, there’s still plenty of more that needs to be done.
Melanie Anzidei is a reporter for NorthJersey.com. To get unlimited access to the latest news, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
Email: [email protected]
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Women & Sport: NorthJersey.com column for female athletes