Saturday, 17 March 2012

Constrained

               (Photo of Bally Wilcox, unknown photographer)

The football's weight and power is clear as it cleaves the air inches past my head, thudding into the precinct wall. Jimmy, the goalkeeper, scoops up the ball and spins around to protect his prise as the attacking footballer, the one who had kicked the ball so accurately and viciously, closes on him eager to snare any fumbled re-bound. Jimmy shoves the attacker away and throws the ball to Ricky on the left.

'Hey, you can't push girls!' shouts Ely from over her shoulder as she spins lithely away.

The slight ten-year-old girl, blonde hair tied up around her head with ragged strands half-covering her face and dressed head-to-toe in a pink tracksuit races away indignantly to tackle Ricky, who now has the ball.

Ely tackles, nicking the ball from Ricky's feet with ease. Running with the ball at her feet in a graceful curve, she unleashes another venomous shot at the hapless Jimmy, who raises his hands and ducks, but too late. The ball slams into his head, knocking him off his feet. He rubbs his bruised bum and glares at the girl.

'I told you, you don't push girls!' Ely shouts and stomps away, a half-smile on her face as she glances at me. I was the only spectator.

Usually I will photograph what's around me in the public domain if I see something interesting as discreetly as I can and without causing discomfort or hurt. But these days, especially as a man, I'm also aware of being thought of as a potential pervert with a camera. So this time I have to describe what happened in words rather than a picture.

This little football game between three ten-year-old children would have made a great shot, a thin and fragile-looking girl easily besting her two chunky male playmates. They were playing on concrete outside some local shops early evening last night. I was on my own and there were a fair few people around. Nevertheless, I felt constrained to not take a picture in case I was accused of something I'd rather not be accused off. So it is that this little moment goes un-photographed, lost forever. It was nothing. No real loss you might think. An everyday event. But I thought it a little special as it shows to me at least, how much girls now stand up for themselves and compete on a level playing field, so to speak, with the boys. And I wish I could have shown that with my camera.


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