(no, not that Waynetta)

Following a report from a committe of MP’s urging England’s Football Association to amend their rules to permit mixed teams past the age of 11, the Guardian’s Natalie Bennett hails the decision.

Had Wayne Rooney not been a footballer, it would probably be fair to assume that he wouldn’t have much of a job, or much social status. Football was his way to those.

Imagine, for a second, a Wayne Rooney’s sister, as Virgina Woolf once imagined a Shakespeare’s sister. While he is receiving the adulation of the nation (well, until recently, anyway), she, with exactly the same natural skills, is playing on a grimy, chopped-up pitch behind the gasworks, as likely to be mocked for her “unnatural, unfeminine” skills as celebrated for them. And while this sister’s fate might not be quite so bad as that of Woolf’s creation, putting such talent in the local hairdressing salon and then marrying her off young, with a couple of kids, is hardly putting it to its best use.

And would it not be an awful lot healthier for a lot of the girls who are not of academic bent, who come from backgrounds unlikely to push towards decent-paying jobs and constructive futures, to dream of being footballers? It would certainly be better than dreaming of being a footballer’s wife.

The observant will have noted that I have not got back to the subject of contact sports such as rugby. Well that’s because I know that many readers whom I may have carried this far will have balked at this final barrier. Packing down beside a woman in a scrum? How could I?

Well, why not? I know the answer, in one form or another, will be that “physical contact equals sex”. Well, a lot of gay blokes play rugby against other blokes, gay and straight (and lesbian women against other women), and you don’t see reports of such games turning into mass public orgies, or indeed of rucks turning into rapes.