By contributing blogger Benjamín Harguindey
Friday 4th saw the Argentine premiere of San Telmo Productions’ documentary Goals for Girls, about women’s association football in Argentina, where it is continually ridiculed and discredited. Directors Gabriel Balanovsky and Ginger Gentile were introduced by BAFICI director Marcelo Panozzo and engaged in a brief Q&A session after the screening along with their youthful female stars from the shantytown team, who joined up with them before the audience.
Goals for Girls (Mujeres con Pelotas in Spanish, lit. “Women with Balls”) focuses on the football team “Allies of the 31st”, in reference to “Villa 31” the Buenos Aires shantytown where the Allies go play. As the movie opens, we see the territorial boys lounging in the sidelines like buzzards, unconvinced by the display of female athleticism. Occasionally they start their own nonchalant game of football amid female practice, only to be shooed repeatedly – if unsuccessfully – by the coach. So it goes.
The documentary interviews the Allies team members and follows them through the grueling day-to-day process of reasserting their presence in the world of association football as they get together, disband and regroup while training for the Homeless World Cup (an international event advocating the end of homelessness though sport). This is intercut with interviews with the “male gaze” – from regular men in the street to sports journalists to higher-ups in the Argentinian Football Association (AFA), all dishing their opinion on women’s association football and its future in Argentina.
“We wanted this movie in BAFICI to throw some light on the subject,” said director Panozzo, introducing the documentary, “But on the other hand this isn’t a social denouncement, but a movie fueled with joy and vitality”.
While there is that – the Allies are a charming bunch – the movie packs some outrageous interviews with men explaining why women can’t, shan’t and won’t ever play association football on par with the male demographic, professionally and otherwise. They are said to lack the aggression, the talent – boys are introduced at an earlier age to the sport, after all – and the physical proclivity to be of any good by male standards. Chauvinism however is practiced on either side of the sex line, as a lot of young girls have trouble earning the consent of their own mothers, who would rather have them help around the house with domestic chores.
The most aggravating thing is the lack of televised coverage women’s association football gets in Argentina, where the live broadcasting of football tournaments is subsidized by the government through a program known as “Football For All”. Sports channels won’t air women’s matches or tournaments because they deem there’s no general interest in them and thus there’s no money in it. So there’s a Catch-22 involving TV focus and awareness – how are the people made aware of women’s football without the focus provided by national TV, and how can TV focus on women’s football if no one is aware of it.
If anything Goals for Girls succeeds on an underdog scale, as the Allies keep fighting the fight and playing the game day after day. As co-director Balanovsky put it, “What they’ve earned they owe to themselves, not to this movie”. It’s certainly helped though.
For more information: http://www.goalsforgirlsthemovie.org
The film will show in the BAFICI Thursday April 10th at 2:25pm and Sunday the 13th at 2:45pm. The film will premier in theaters in Argentina on May 8th, 2014, and can be seen in festivals throughout the world, including Boston Latino and the Havana Film Festival. Please contact for DVD sales and theatrical showings.
Trailer of the Film: