The Summer of Empowerment
There is a lot to be said about 2016 so far. It has been the year of the wonderful UEFA Euro Championship, with all its surprises and inspirational moments. From Iceland to Italy, all the way to Portugal, the teams that “were not supposed” to perform: they all became the protagonists of our football nights. Then we suddenly found ourselves waiting for Rio. Some of us were skeptical. For many reasons, these Olympic Games have been very controversial, even more than usual for an event of this caliber. Then the competitions started, the medals began to rain down on us and the stories of the athletes became the real highlights of the second half of our summer.
An Empowering Bridge
As if connected by an invisible bridge, EURO 2016 and Rio 2016 have been characterized and conquered by powerful images. If on one hand we had the underdogs of the football world, on the other we have been witnessing a series of mesmerizing historic performances: the first African-American woman to win a gold medal in swimming; the first Puertorican woman ever to win a medal; Simone Biles’ historic gymnastics run, which has already become a symbol for gender and race equality; the bronze won by Ibtihaj Muhammad, who was the first US athlete ever to compete wearing a hijab at the Olympics. These are just few examples of a year that is unexpectedly becoming a powerful representation of equality.
And just as all this was happening, our website has been welcoming huge numbers of viewers in futsal and women’s football events. Empowerment and equality seem to be strangely contagious, and sports all over the planet are functioning as both megaphones and sponges, absorbing and communicating the monumental shift that seems to be happening in an historical moment made of extremes. This is inspiring and electrifying, it is something to think about and to cultivate, to embrace and push forward in every possible way. We truly believe this can be done by supporting women’s football or beach soccer, hidden corners of a global sport where diversity flourishes on a daily basis. It can also be done by sharing the story of a wonderful athlete who has cultivated his/her talent in the shadows of his/her own courage.
Pick and choose, there are many ways to praise this wonderful summer of sport, with its unexpected and yet very much needed celebrations of diversity and equality. It is refreshing. It is powerful. It is what sports is all about: we almost forgot about it! Thank you summer 2016. History says 1967 was the summer of love? Then, we are going to call you the summer of empowerment!