| SOCIAL ISSUES |To Thema Online



What has the story with the exclusion of the U16 girls’ national basketball team from the European Championship for purely sexist reasons and the subsequent (forced) rectification of the injustice by the Federation taught us? One thing: Listen to the madwomen.

If it wasn’t for some of the parents, especially mothers, of the excluded girls to rouse people up, the U16 and U18 women’s national teams would continue to miss out on going to Europe for the next ten years. Maybe even forever. Because, after all, the male-dominated (18 to one) Cyprus Basketball Federation had solid arguments: that they allegedly don’t have any money to pay for all the teams and there are more boys playing basketball than girls. And even today, after everything that followed, they still don’t see sexism [in their actions].

That’s why I’m telling you, listen to the madwomen. The ones who incite people. The ones who cry out against the injustices, the flaws, the malaise of the system. The ones who mobilised other parents, journalists (this column was one of the media outlets that highlighted the issue last week), female athletes, institutions, bodies and ordinary citizens. And I’m spotlighting the madwomen, with all due respect to the mad fathers of the same sex who also rose up, because the women not only raised a louder voice, they are also the ones who were targeted the most. They were labelled – not publicly, but I’m in a position to know – hysterical, excessive, self-serving, annoying, and the like, by those who wanted to downplay the issue, to convince us that there is no wrongdoing going on here and that this blatant injustice is the ‘norm’. That sexism is the norm. It was also said that the whole story was stirred up by parents whose daughters were not selected for the national team, or who had a personal dispute with the coach or the Federation. Which is genuine, unadulterated, pure bullshit. Bullshit that wouldn’t even convince an 8-year-old.

So these “mad”, “hysterical”, “excessive”, women have made it all the way to FIBA [International Basketball Federation]. They found phone numbers, emails, they called, emailed, pestered, insisted. Because some people in this corner of the South-Eastern Mediterranean may think that we still live in the age of dowries and [condescending] “hey woman”s, but international organisations actually give a damn about sexism and gender discrimination in sports. And they certainly don’t want such incidents in their ranks, not in the slightest. And it was only after they got the bear’s (not the one who snorted cocaine) slating [Translator’s note: ‘the bear’s slating’ is a Greek idiom meaning strong disapproval] and the matter reached FIBA officials, that KOK [Cyprus Basketball Federation] announced to the House Human Rights Committee that a solution had been found and that the U16 team could finally go to Montenegro. There, the Committee (Irene Charalambidou, Giorgos Koukoumas, Fotini Tsiridou, Rita Superman) not only castigated the Federation for the ten-year exclusion of one national girls’ team but also shot down what were in any case their flimsy arguments. Six female basketball players aged between 11 and 17 had a powerful presence there, asserting their rights in their own voices. The 11-year-old Aristea is probably the youngest citizen of the Republic of Cyprus to make her voice heard in Parliament. And the Education Committee, on the initiative of MP Andreas Apostolou, wanting to stamp out the phenomenon once and for all, is tabling a relevant law to prevent similar cases of gender discrimination in any sport from happening again.

Therefore, listen to the madwomen. And be afraid of them. Especially when they are right in every possible way. And as (bitter) experience has taught us, the only suitable way to force anyone in a position of power who thinks they can toy with the lives, dreams and dignity of others to correct the injustice they themselves have created (and ensured will be perpetuated) is to make a fuss. The voice. The stirring. The relentless screaming. The unmasking.

In normal states, a phone call or letter is usually enough. Here, unfortunately, you have to kick the hornet’s nest.


A journalist for over 20 years, Marinos Nomikos has been a constant thorn in the side of the Establishment, thanks to his sharp humour and insightful social commentary. He has collaborated, among others, with the newspapers Politis, Kathimerini and Phileleftheros, the magazines TV Mania and Down Town, and the radio stations Active, Sfera and Kanali 6. He currently writes for the websites ToThemaOnline and LimassolToday and presents the podcast ‘TV Stories’ by Alpha.

You may also like




Comments are closed.