Does women's football have the place it deserves in Luxembourg? Tessy Troes has asked herself this question, tracing its history from the 1970s to the present day in a poignant documentary in which women declare their love for the game.
It's a recent phenomenon. At least that's the impression given by the media, who seem to have discovered women's football in recent years. Matches are broadcasted on television, international tournaments fill the stadiums, in short, the craze for women's football is real. But is it really that recent? Tessy Troes has gone back in time in her documentary Um Ball – 50 Joer Fraefussball zu Lëtzebuerg, where she revisits the beginnings of the sport with the main players involved. She has been touring the country for over two years with her film, visiting schools and local communities, including a special evening in Esch at the end of January this year. It's a way of showing that women have been fighting for a long time to carve out a place for themselves in the world of sport. Using personal archives, memorabilia, photos and press cuttings, she shows in just over an hour that women's football was already a reality in the early 1970s, more specifically with the first 'official' match on record, a Belvaux (0) – Bissen (15) match on 21 September 1970. The players at the time remember joining the Bissen team, the first to be created, to be with their friends and because there weren't many other sporting activities on offer for young girls at the time.
"The idea for the film came when I was 9, because I wanted to play with the village boys in the club, and they told me that girls don't play football, so I think that was the starting point for the whole story, " says Tessy in her introduction. The young woman did not live through the early 1970s, but more than 30 years later, things had not changed much once she was a child herself. Girls were tolerated in the boys' teams up to a certain age, but afterwards you had to find a women's team in the country. Not an easy task. "In 2019 there was the World Cup in France, and I was there the last weekend as a journalist, doing reports. It made a big impression on me, because the atmosphere among the supporters was much more welcoming than in men's football, " she continues.
The discovery of football is generally made with the men, on television or in the village club stadiums at the weekend. "Most of the professional matches I'd seen were men's football. But this time being in Lyon and seeing all the people who were super motivated, super open, who had a different relationship with women's football, that was really inspiring. At the same time, Fifa had published a little booklet on women's football around the world, and I saw that in Luxembourg the first championship was held in September 1972, which surprised me because I'd known a little bit about the history since 1997, but I didn't know that it was 25 years later! After her astonishment, Tessy Troes took a more serious look at the hidden history of these pioneers of women's football. But was it worth it? Was there any public interest? "As a first step in the project, we carried out a survey on women's football in Luxembourg, which was published on Facebook and I think that in two or three days, we received over 100 responses. That meant there was interest in the project, " she says.
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