Little Girl Admiring a Soccer Referee in Viral Photo Shows Us Why Representation Matters
We all tell our kids that they can grow up to be whatever they want. But when kids don’t see themselves represented in those professions, what we TELL them doesn’t matter as much as what they see and process on their own. A viral photo of a little girl admiring a soccer referee who “looks like her” is the perfect example of why representation matters. When a little girl sees a woman doing something, she starts to understand that she can do it, too.
The photo was tweeted out by Nathan Walker. It shows his daughter Clara gazing at a soccer referee during a game she attended with her dad.
Daughter was delighted to see this assistant referee today "her hair is like mine, can I be a referee? " – pic taken during one of the many injury breaks @TheGarforthTown @WomeninFootball @NCEL . pic.twitter.com/e87UvbxTEL
— Hullablue (@hullablue) October 14, 2017
Clara seems to share her dad’s love of soccer, but that’s not what’s so awesome about this photo. It’s what Clara said to her father that has resonated with people.
“Her hair is like mine, can I be a referee?” Clara wasn’t just paying attention to the game or the job the ref was doing. She recognized a connection between herself and the woman on the field. If this woman can be a soccer ref with her long hair, then that meant Clara could grow up to be one, too.
The photo has gone viral, with almost 6,000 retweets and 25,000 likes. People were touched by this 4-year old seeing herself represented in a profession that women aren’t typically a part of.
That's such a brilliant photo.
— Garforth Town AFC (@TheGarforthTown) October 14, 2017
Thank you for sharing … representation is truly important!
— Ahmed (@Nafarat100100) October 15, 2017
This has warmed my heart. Thank you so much for sharing. â¤ï¸ @WomeninFootball
— Alan (@awo86) October 14, 2017
Love this ? Yes she can… Become anything you set your mind on!!! #thisgirlcan
— Coach Emma ? (@MissEmmaOConnor) October 15, 2017
“She normally says the referees are her favorites as black is her favorite color,â€ Nathan told Scary Mommy. â€œBut they really were yesterday as it was the first time she had noticed a women official.” Female representation in sport officiating is severely lacking. In the US, there have only been 6 full-time female referees: 3 in the NBA, 1 in the NHL, 1 in the NFL, and one in MLB. Clara hails from the UK. However, judging by her reaction to the woman in black on the field, it’s a problem there, too. In any case, we’re so glad Clara has a role model on the field. Maybe one day she’ll be the one in black carrying the flag!
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(Image: Twitter / @Hullablue)