Tehran in April 2006: The first official friendly between the Iran women’s national football team and a local Berlin girls’ team takes place in front of more than 1000 cheering female fans. The entire stadium is electric, charged with a high voltage of girl power. A couple of men hang around in front of the gates, trying to peek over the fence. They are barred from entering the stadium today.
All these young women want to do is play football together, yet it has taken a year of hard work to make this match happen. It has been a long hard battle against testosterone, arbitrariness and repression and we accompany Marlene - a right-footer and left-field defender in the "BSV AL-Dersimpor" team in Kreuzberg - on this journey.
She herself confesses that she has rarely finished anything she has started – but this time, things are different. An Iranian friend told her about the team in Tehran, that they had never played against another team, that it is only permitted for them to train indoors and that even women are not allowed to watch them in the stadium. A decision is made quickly, headscarves are purchased, and a trip to Iran booked.
There she gets to know the players in the women’s team. Niloofar, for example, who has pulled her cap down low over her face and zipped her jacket up to her chin. She has dressed as a boy, in order to be able to train without a headscarf, just once. She does what she wants, she says, dreams about Beckham and helps Marlene to plan the big event.
Preparations are also going ahead in Germany. Learning the Iranian ethical code. The women don’t just want to play football. Above all, they want to get to know one another, to see how the other half live, experience what it’s like to play football with a headscarf, says Susu, who is herself Muslim, like many girls in the Berlin team. Football is everything to her. A happy pill and a chance to let off steam - everything. She started playing because she wanted to be better than her brother. He gave up, she kept playing. She whizzes across the field, out-dribbling everyone, shouting louder than anyone. She is a bundle of energy, unafraid to speak her mind.
Some eight hours flying time away, Narmila and her mother are kicking a ball around the street, chadors and headscarves flowing in the wind. It is impractical but one manages. She taught her daughter flanking skills, she plays herself, says Narmila’s mother, her eyes shining. She was on the national team before the revolution and hopes that her daughter will be more successful than she was. Her husband banned her from playing football after her wedding. But he is now dead and she bolts through the dust with her daughter. In Iran, “everything and nothing is possible at the same time”.
Marlene has noticed the same thing. Nothing is easy. A new set of difficulties keep on presenting themselves. It’s like an obstacle course where one often doesn’t actually know where the obstacles are located. But even though the game is postponed from November to March and will actually take place in April and one doesn’t get to play, as planned, in Asia’s largest football stadium but on a dry pitch with delapidated goals, even if Niloofar will decide for reasons which no one understands not to take part in the game after all - the girls refuse to be put off. At the end there is dancing and singing on the terraces, head scarves are pushed back. And even if a couple of guardians of public morals in black frocks say that football is undignified – they will keep on because keeping quiet and doing as they are told, now that would be really undignified. These 90 minutes are about more than just a football game. The desire for both selfdetermination and equality are being expressed here. It is clear: change is possible.
For further information: www.football-under-cover.de
The screening is followed by a conversation with Ayat Najafi, moderated by Christel Weiler.
The admission is free.
The screening is a cooperation of the International Research Center "Interweaving Performance Cultures", the German Center of the International Theatre Institute and mime centrum berlin.