Ireland international Chloe Mustaki hopes that Ireland follows the path of her club side and abandons white shorts.
Chloe Mustaki is going to the World Cup with Ireland this year.
The 27-year-old defender has five caps for Ireland and has recently become a preferred player for Vera Pauw. Mustaki plays her club football for Bristol City, a team that has recently made a change to their kit to accommodate their female players.
Bristol used to wear white shorts but they switched to red shorts so that the players no longer worried about playing while on their periods.
With Ireland, Mustaki and her teammates still wear white shorts. She thinks it's a good idea for the Ireland team to consider making a change ahead of the World Cup later this year.
"It's probably something that is definitely worth considering," Mustaki said.
“Over the longer term for the younger age groups who are probably only starting to deal with their periods. And so the fear of leaking, or anything like that happening is a lot stronger, and a lot more real for them. And it is, I'm sure, it's something that will probably be discussed ahead of the World Cup.’’
Other football teams in England such as Manchester City, Stoke City and West Brom have already made the switch away from white shorts.
At the top level, athletes are edging each other out by one percent here and there all the time. Mustaki says it can make a difference when a player isn't fully focused on playing but instead worrying about what they can't see on their shorts.
"It's all about those small margins. That five percent or 10 percent of worrying that you're doing during the game, wondering if the blood is seeping through onto your shorts and whether it's showing to the spectators. That's the extra five or 10 percent that your opponent has on you."
Emma Kelly is the senior manager of the Antrim Ladies GAA team. Last year, the team swapped white shorts out for green shorts. It has made a noticeable difference in the girls, according to Kelly.
"You can see that they're not as worried about their time of the month," Kelly said.
Hannah Miley is a three-time Olympian swimmer from Scotland. Miley is retired now and swimmers don't wear shorts obviously, but Miley recalls it being an issue for her during her career too.
"I had my embarrassing moment," Miley said.
"You know, you had the tampon string hanging out. And your friend saying 'by the way, we can see your string,' or 'you've leaked through your tampon,' or 'that you've got blood running down your leg.' Even going through puberty, you know hair spiking in all sorts of places, the body image side is really, really quite stark."
Athletes competing in swimming don't necessarily have a specific uniform or dress code. And they definitely don't wear white shorts. So what was Miley's solution?
"You end up going for more darker suits. And I feel it's a shame because I love bright colours and I feel I have to dull down that side of my personality because of that."
Sometimes change has to be forced before it can be recognized as a positive move. Miley believes sports teams and organizations will see improved performances across the board if they actually embrace this new approach to uniforms and clothing.
"Change is good. We are seeing it, but at the same time are people changing it because it's for the benefit of the individual athletes and making sure that they're comfortable? Or have you just been told this has to happen?"
It's not just at the professional level that change is coming.
At grassroots level, Park Rangers AFC in Waterford are embracing the change also. Michael Cox, a coach at the club, explained why they made the change.
"Our typical kit is white shorts and red jerseys," Cox said.
"We were sending our girls off in white shorts, completely oblivious to the fact that that's not appropriate."
Every organization and team, from children playing amateur sports to adults playing professionally, needs an appropriate outfit. It might take some time to change. You can't just mass-produce shorts in an instant for every girl in the country. But the change that's coming is a very positive step.
Sport is moving in the right direction in this regard. And it should be a priority to remove any barriers to young girls competing in sport moving forward. Especially with the World Cup coming to inspire them all in 2023.
Author: Kim Morrissey.