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GAIL CURRY,
WRITER/EDITOR (GREAT BRITAIN)


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"It is my belief that top women players are not wanted in Britain."
Richard's article has touched a subject upon which I have written in the past, sometimes more vehemently than others, but always with the best of intentions. I agree with most of Richard's article and thank him for, in my opinion, what was a good article in the most part.

The reasons given for a lack of top women players were that croquet is a sport for nerds, and that women do not like to think while playing sport. (I hope this does not mean that poor Debbie [Cornelius] is the only nerd moron.) But seriously, I think there is a fundamental reason why more women do not reach the heights, which was not mentioned, that reason being 'competitiveness' or if you like 'aggression'.

Richard did touch on the subject, I think, but it was shrouded in the Victorian era, where I interpreted it under male domination. In times past all you chaps used to spend all of your aggression hunting, shooting and fishing, while the subservient females stayed at home watching the kids and cleaning the house. Through evolution most chaps no longer do the former, but now exercise this inherent need through competitive sport. Alas, women's roles have not yet evolved that far, although the 'new man' is doing his bit to speed it up. In short, men have a much more competitive attitude than their female counterparts, and they have had more opportunities and a longer time to develop it.

There are other sociological reasons related to the lack of good female players. Take, for example, the lack of role models in the female game. The same can hardly be said of our male counterparts. I don't know this for a fact, but I think it would be fair to say that during the years Richard quoted for the President's Cup, there was a growth in the level of women's play from 1929 to 1965, possibly due to more role models being around and encouraging others. (Don't ask me what happened after 1965 - I doubt flower power was that attractive.)

Moving on from this, what message is constantly sent to female players? "You're no good." It is a well known fact that if people are constantly given this sort of negative message sooner or later they begin to believe it, or worse still give up trying to make any improvement.

"What message is constantly sent to female players? 'You're no good.'"
Richard gave examples of sports at which women excel, those being Golf, Swimming, Tennis and Athletics. But there are two very good reasons why these should not have been chosen in comparison with croquet. (Sorry, Richard.) Firstly, as he stated, they are all professional sports. Surely if anyone is to earn their living, particularly from sport, they have to have a very strong and single-minded competitive attitude. In addition, all of these sports operate on a single-sex basis, something that - barring a tiny minority of events - croquet does not have, and I would not advocate.

As to the 'Wiggling Hips' & 'Beer Guts' scenarios offered by Richard's tournament acquaintances, it would have been interesting to know whether these views came from males or females - I suspect the former - but would treat them all with the contempt they deserve.

Now for the controversial part, as has become my trademark I fear. Hat's off to Richard for offering possible solutions to the problem, even though I don't agree with the Golf Croquet part. As far as I know this is the only time constructive comment has been made on this subject. However, it is my belief that possible solutions are of no value; what is clearly required is action - or is it?

There has been, and probably will be, discussion of this subject, but that is all it is - talk. Why do we talk about it and do nothing? It is my belief that top women players are not wanted in Britain. How can I dare say such a thing? Simple: if enough people within the administration of the sport in this country wished to change the position, I am sure by now they would have done so, or we would at least have seen some evidence of their attempts.

The only attempt to date to encourage women to play croquet that I know of was a recruitment drive directed at Women's Institutes to play Golf Croquet some years ago. This therefore, in my belief, leaves the following questions to be answered by the Croquet Association in England before any more fruitless discussion.
  1. Do you want more top-class women players?
  2. If not, why not?
  3. If you do, how are you going to achieve it?

--Gail Curry

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