By Lisa Jesudas
— Anticipation is building for the upcoming University College Student Representatives of the Netherlands (UCSRN) tournament that will be hosted by University College Utrecht (UCU) on 30 April. However, the tournament’s official website states that the women’s football teams are allowed a maximum of eight participants while the men’s football teams are allowed nine. News of this disparity has led some at AUC to question the fairness of these upcoming events.
Freya Baker, a second-year Science major and captain of the AUC women’s football team, was quick to notice the disparity between the men’s and women’s teams. She criticises, “This is not really fair and I don’t like the gender disparity in this.”
Baker first approached a board member of CATCH, AUCSA’s sports committee, to double check that this was not an error. It was explained to her that there is in fact a difference in allotted players as each team will play on different-sized pitches throughout the tournament.
Quintie Mijnals, secretary on the UCSRN tournament team at UCU, clarifies that although it is ideal to have all tournament events on campus, it is not logistically possible to have all football teams play on the UCU pitch. As a result, an off-campus hockey field was rented to accommodate all matches. The men’s football teams will play 6v6 on half of the hockey field, which is physically bigger than the campus pitch where the women’s teams will play 5v5.
Mijnals justifies that it may even benefit the women’s teams to play on campus with fewer players. They gain the opportunity of being “central on campus, allowing a lot of spectators, which might work in their favour.”
After learning the reason for the disparity in players, Baker is more understanding of the situation. She admits that a difference of one player is not substantial and she too feels it would be advantageous to be located on the UCU campus. “Although I hate to say it, it’s true women’s sports get less spectatorship,” she says.
Oliver West, a second-year Social Science major and member of the AUCSA UCSRN team, weighs in on the situation as well. Men’s football is one of two events located off-campus and is a 25-minute walk away from the UCU campus, where all other events will be taking place. As a player in the men’s football team, he expects there to be minimal spectatorship despite having an additional player since the majority of people will be congregated on campus.
Amidst the confusion surrounding this issue, West does sympathise with the organisers of the tournament having to manage and prepare for an event of this size. However, he suggests that the information regarding the sport facilities could have been communicated more clearly: “A lot of people just saw men’s 6v6, women’s 5v5, and thought… why?”
Nonetheless, Mijnals emphasises that the difference in players for both teams is not a case of inequality. The organisers’ choice of which teams would play where “had not been a conscious decision,” and the tournament is expected to proceed with the guidelines listed on the website.