We were invited to a training session at Petts Wood FC near Orpington with Casey Stoney, the Arsenal and England footballer. It was the launch of McDonalds Football Mum of the Year – there will be a proper writeup to follow, but H has rediscovered her love of playing football thanks to Casey.
Football Mum of the Year is a chance for you to vote for a mum who you feel inspires you, who helps the game of football happen – be that driving a child to matches or just washing their kit. I’ll write up more about this, but right now I’m slightly emotional – as this morning H rediscovered her love of playing football, after swearing blind she hated playing the game, something I suspected wasn’t true.
We used to do football lessons with a local team – H really enjoyed going, and didn’t seem too fazed that she was the only girl there. Things were going well and everything was good – but then they changed the coach to a more shouty one, her school friends all stopped going and it wasn’t quite so much fun for her.
H decided from that point onwards she didn’t like playing football any more. She would happily watch it (and we would have gone to England v Germany Women at Wembley had she not been unwell) but actually playing games wasn’t happening any more.
That was until Saturday; something reawoke in H. Once the ball was at her feet she got on with it – and did really well. Despite not having had any classes for a long time now she played and had confidence. It made me SO happy! I’m wondering if it was because she was one of the older children there so wasn’t as shy about things.
Afterwards I interviewed Casey Stoney (which will appear in the full writeup next week). You can see how passionate she is about the game – and how much she enjoyed encouraging the young ones to play. It was a different style of coaching to the kind we’d previously experienced and it worked for H. I felt like she had a little more spatial awareness and any initial shyness she had felt was gone quickly – she wanted to join in.
Women’s football is getting popular – and rightly so. But most importantly of all, the games are affordable. We’ve just bought three tickets for Wembley for the FA Cup Final for £25 with postage. I don’t care who is playing, we’re going to have fun and help introduce H to the fact that women can play football and they do it well. After all, it was H herself who told me once that a boy said “girls can’t like football” – I’m not sure why they thought that.
This is where the McDonald’s Football Mum of the Year comes in. If you know any mums out there who encourage their children, who support them, who make it happen, you can vote for them. This isn’t about women’s football, or men’s football – it’s just football – for everyone. How it should be – and celebrating the mums who help make it happen. Casey Stoney is also on the panel who will judge all the entries.
This afternoon once we’d had some lunch, H turned to Shaun. “Daddy, can we go and play football in the park?” – I think something has been reignited in her love of playing football. I’m going to find a local group which has plenty of girls in there, where she can just turn up and play.
You can vote on the McDonalds Football Mum of the Year over here.
We were given a goody bag to attend today, all opinions are my own.