Photo Courtesy of Charlie Fong.

Female NYUAD Footballer Makes Debut on Men’s Team

Megan Marzolf makes history as the first female football player to represent the men’s team in an intercollegiate competition.

May 9, 2022

At the 75th minute, the referee blew the whistle and Megan Marzolf, Class of 2024, walked onto the Falcon Field as her teammates erupted in cheers from the sideline. Though she has played football all her life and competed in regional tournaments, this game was particularly nerve wracking for her. That was because she was the only girl on the field, representing NYU Abu Dhabi as a full fledged member of the men’s team.
“You want each game to be your best performance, a culmination of your practice hours and your best potential. I felt like in this game I needed to do this even more,” she admitted. It’s one thing to screw up or make a mistake in a place that you know you belong. It’s a whole other pressure to perform your best when you feel everyone is watching you, evaluating whether or not you can handle this new level of play.”
On April 28, the NYUAD men’s and women’s football teams (known colloquially as MUSBAH FC) played against Zayed University at the North Site in friendly games. A week before the match, Marzolf received a text from Peter Dicce, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Athletics, Intramurals and Recreation, asking if she wanted to play for the men’s team instead. Seeing this as a unique opportunity that was hard to come by, she agreed right away.
“I think it is a big statement that the coaches and MUSBAH FC are saying about our program. It shows that people can be judged off of their ability, not just on their gender,” the women’s team co-captain shared. “Small acts like letting me play a game for the men’s team normalize the importance of women in sport. Me playing in this match didn’t change anything dramatically, but it certainly added unconscious respect for female athletes.”
At the end of the game, Marzolf got taken out by a defender on the opposing team in an aggressive tackle outside the penalty box. This resulted in that player getting a yellow card. This brought a smile to the striker’s heart as it meant that she was being treated on equal ground and was not let off easier just because of her gender.
“Women in sports, and soccer particular, have been pushed repeatedly down the totem pole. Women have been told they have to play on turf to make the game faster, and, for a while, put in the same amount of work for less pay,” she noted.
While the sophomore enjoys bonding with the other girls on the team in their family-like community, she has the most fun playing in the mixed internal leagues organized by coaches. She thought that it encouraged healthy competition and introduced different playing styles to the mix when men and women compete against each other.
When she came off the field, she was met with overwhelming support from her MUSBAH teammates, holding up homemade posters and banners with slogans such as “Bend it like Megan” and “She is the even better man.” Their presence and enthusiasm were immense sources of encouragement.
As she prepares to move to London for study away next semester, she is looking forward to continuing her football journey by joining a pick up league or a casual team. With Covid-19 restrictions relaxing and the resumption of intercollegiate games, perhaps it won’t be long before we see Marzolf or another female player debuting in an ADISL game.
Charlie Fong is Senior News Editor. Email her at
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