IMPACT 0207: KEEPING SCORE: AN EQUAL PLAYING FIELD
Brander Na, 28, and her friends, started a campaign called “Keeping Score”, which seeks to educate people about the discrimination that women in sports face and to equip female athletes with the knowledge and skills to overcome the unequal treatment.
As part of the campaign, which was launched on Soccer Girl Goals’ social media platforms in April, the team has been providing information about the various forms of inequality that women face in sports – touching on topics such as unequal pay, the lack of media coverage, and discriminatory attitudes towards female athletes. The campaign is backed by the National Youth Council and Youth Change Makers.
I’m Brander and I’m 28 this year. I’m a hockey player who has been playing the sport for the last 15 years. Since March this year, I’ve been running Keeping Score – a campaign that fights discrimination against women in sports.
I developed an interest in this topic after reading “One Life” by Megan Rapinoe.
From being the first white player to take the knee in 2016, which is a symbolic action against racism, to supporting the Equal Pay movement for the US Soccer Women’s National Team, her bravery in speaking out against the injustice she witnessed in her sporting career inspired me.
Being a white woman in America, Rapinoe recognised her privilege and used that to speak out about injustice. “One Life” also raised awareness of the discrimination that the US Soccer Women’s National Team faced– such as unequal resources, unequal funding and unequal pay.
But this problem is not unique to America. We have the same challenges here in Singapore, where there is a lack of conversation about issues regarding sexism and discrimination against women in sports.
Inspired by Rapinoe, I felt that I needed to use my privilege to speak out about this matter. With that, I started Keeping Score with two friends. Keeping Score is Singapore’s first anti-discrimination campaign for women in sports that seeks to equip them with the knowledge and confidence to stand up against discrimination.
While doing research for the campaign, I came to realise that the greatest challenge faced by female athletes is that many of the discriminatory acts and behaviours have been normalised.
One common phrase many would have heard is “start playing like a man” or “stop playing like a girl”. As an athlete myself, I’ve heard this multiple times, but no one has ever stood up to ask: “What’s wrong with playing like a girl?”
Many people do not realise that such a statement is discriminatory in nature. So, even if female athletes are uncomfortable about it, they often do not speak out against it because they are worried about the backlash. They do not want to be seen as aggressive or “too sensitive”.
This in itself is a huge problem. How are we going to fight discrimination if the athletes themselves do not dare to speak up about it? As such, there is a huge emphasis on education and raising awareness on what constitutes discrimination, and the different types of discrimination that women in sports might face.
Overall, I am heartened by what Keeping Score has achieved. Members of the womens’ sports community have left us messages to thank us for what we do – for lending a voice to the undervalued and under-reported female athletes in Singapore.
The Straits Times even picked up the story of Keeping Score and covered our campaign. This paved the way for more media coverage of female athletes in Singapore.
Of course, this success came with its critics as well. After our feature on The Straits Times, the team and I experienced social media attacks on local forum site HardwareZone, when someone took issue with our cause and began a thread anchored around the feature.
There were a lot of negative comments made by netizens, which included personal attacks and sexualised comments. We were called “too sensitive” and “overthinking” – common discriminatory phrases made against women.
Except this time, Keeping Score will keep doing what we believe in.
If anything, this was further confirmation that we need to continue this cause. There is a long way to go before we reach a level playing field, and our journey has just begun.