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Kick Like a Girl filmmaker Jenny Mackenzie talks about how a film sprang from real life and why coed competition is good for kids

February 2, 2010 – 5:22 AM

By Megan Wood

Sadly, the LA Sol have been dissolved, leaving one less professional women’s soccer team to inspire young players. But there is a team out there to root for: Utah’s Mighty Cheetahs. This film is not new, but if you haven’t seen it or heard about it, watch the trailer here. In it, Mighty Cheetahs coach (and filmmaker) Jenny Mackenzie documents a third grade girl’s soccer team which pushes the boundaries of gender segregation in sports by competing in the boys division (for the first time in 2005). Mackenzie — who does public speaking — is coming our way tomorrow so we took time to talk with her about the film. Inspired to make it by her own mother and the reaction of fans on the sideline when their boy’s faced all-girl competition, Mackenzie follows her dream team of 8-year old girls as they make clear that the insult “Kick Like A Girl” is actually a compliment.

FGN: What personal experiences triggered your interests in this topic and the Kick Like A Girl project?

JM: Sports have always been an important part of my life.   When I became a mother, I knew that I wanted to coach my girls in a variety of sports and I knew that having female role models in all areas of their lives was important- on the playing field, in the work place, in school, and at home.  It was my own mom who inspiring me to start filming Kick Like A Girl. She had come out to visit at the beginning of the season we were playing against the boys, and she heard some of the sideline comments from the parents, and she said “Jenny you have a great story here.”

FGN: Why do you think young boys and girls are separated by gender in athletics?

JM: I think gender segregation in any aspect of life comes from an historical context.  We’ve made tremendous progress with gender equity and integration, but there are everyday issues that remind me that there is still a lot of work to be done.

FGN: Was it as big of a deal to the girls as it was to their parents and other community members that they were playing soccer with boys?

JM: No.  The girls were really pumped and excited for the next challenge. They were ready to continue to learn and grow.

FGN: What effect did a co-ed team have on the female and male players? What lessons did they carry off the field from their experience?

JM: I think it had lasting effects on all of the boys and girls, as well as their parents.  They all learned from each other- the boys learned to respect the girls on the playing field, and therefore in other areas of their lives as well.  They also learned as they watched the girls work together on the soccer field,  that teamwork is much more effective than the ‘one man show’.  The girls learned that the possibilities for them at the age of 9 to grow as young athletes were not limited by gender.

FGN: What were the reactions of the community when you presented this documentary? Is there more co-ed play in your community?

JM: The community has wrapped their arms around this film.  They are very proud of it, and yes it has inspired more co-ed play.  We are in the process of working with local and National Youth soccer boards to have co-ed opportunities through elementary school.

FGN: Do you have any plans for another film? Are you left with any lingering questions after you produced Kick Like A Girl?

JM: I have two projects in development- one called Teen Love, an in depth look at the reality of teenage love, romance, and sexuality.  The other film is called Sugar Babies, and it looks at the public health epidemic of Diabetes through four children living with diabetes.

  1. One Response to “Kick Like a Girl filmmaker Jenny Mackenzie talks about how a film sprang from real life and why coed competition is good for kids”

  2. It’s such an amazing thing that we are still dealing with the gender issue in sports especially. I have also witnessed the great enhancement for both genders when sports are played coed. My two youngest daughters play on coed soccer teams and the youngest also plays coed hockey- the effect is wonderful- for both boys and girls. The girls know that they have teh chance to prove they are everybit as good as any boy, while the boys have to play at their best as well. Its really the parents who have the toughest time with coed sports. But they are coming along.

    I haven’t actually seen the film- how can I do that? I’ll have to get in contact with Jenny I guess.

    In the mean time, teen girl athletes, check out a site dedicated to you and the needs of being a teen girl athlete while being a girl- http://TigressTeens.ning.com

    Its really great that people are realizing the great abilities of girls as whole human beings!

    By Grace Mauzy on Feb 2, 2010

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