Child: Which is your favourite football team?
Ade: Sorry, I don’t like football.
Child: But which is your favourite team?
Ade: I don’t understand… I just told you that I don’t like football.
Child: Mine’s Chelsea. It used to be Man U. Which is yours? Just pick one.
Ade: Ummm… Matlock Town.
Child: What?! Who are they? Do you like them?
Ade: No, you just asked me to pick a team, so that’s what I did. They’re the team my dad went to see when he was little. He was from near there.
Child: Ha, I bet they’re rubbish!
Ade: I don’t know. I keep trying to tell you, I don’t like football.
Child: Does your dad still watch them?
Ade: No, he doesn’t really like football.
I’ve had this conversation so many times I’ve got a rough idea of what comes next…
“So who’s your favourite football player?”
I shrug my shoulders and answer as I always do, “I don’t know. Pele? Gary Lineker? Kevin Keegan? Maradona? That bloke on the Stella advert that’s got a beard?” My answer is always accompanied with an expression on my face that desperately wills them to agree. They never do. Instead, they laugh and reel out names that are familiar but only because I’ve been here before. “Messi. Neymar. Cristiano Ronaldo. They’re the best”.
No prizes for guessing why I wanted to join the Gender Respect Project.
Ade is part of a minority group because he’s a male primary teacher. His roles include being PHSE subject leader, through which he is actively encouraging children at his school to feel confident enough to break away from gender stereotypes and to help them make their own choices regarding interests and (ultimately) careers in the future. He loves being a husband and dad, he’s a regular cyclist and runner, and he spends a bit too much time on computer games. But football is a big no, no!