Women’s Football, A Bit of Opinion

scoring a goal in football
I’ve loved football for as long as I can remember. I was never taken to a game by my parents – I took them to theirs. The only reason for that was my younger sister being a ball girl. My teams are Tottenham and York City, my main and home team.

I have suitably brainwashed H, so they are also her teams – and it took minimal effort too. As time has progressed we’ve found ourselves watching a lot of women’s football.

Women’s football is so different these days. It’s much easier to play against other girls for a start. We’ve been attending the SSE FA Wildcats sessions at Crystal Palace, and have watched the FA Cup Final at Wembley three years in a row.

H at Wembley

Things are improving outside of our family too. Just today Lewes, a lower league team has announced they will pay the women’s team the same wages as they do the men’s. They have launched Equality FC and I think it’s brilliant!

When you look at the structure of the women’s football league, this diagram helps you see how much things are growing.

Tottenham won the Women’s Premier League Southern Division, whereas Blackburn won the Northern one. The two teams met in a play off with Tottenham gaining promotion to FA WSL Division Two.

Womens football pyramid

England women (aka the Lionesses) are in The Netherlands getting ready for the UEFA European Championships which start very soon. We joined in a Twitter chat on Monday with Casey Stoney who we interviewed a couple of years ago.

Magazines like She Kicks are growing too – a fantastic place to read about women’s football. I’ve bought H a year’s subscription as part of her birthday present. After all, she’s loving collecting the stickers in her Women’s UEFA European Championships album – why not back that up with a magazine too?

It all feels like we’re on the brink of something big happening. Exciting news came this week that Little Mix have launched a campaign with the FA to get everyone to Salute the Lionesses. Check out this video and share your salute too!

What a fab fun campaign. There are plans for H and her Wildcats friends to do a big salute for England this weekend coming which is awesome! I can’t help thinking how brilliant I would have found it if there had been an equivalent when I watched my first World Cup that England featured in (1982 – I just bought the records instead). While this isn’t H’s first tournament, it’s the first one she feels a part of.

The FA recently launched their new site, For Girls over here. I love it. It’s a great site for girls of H’s age to learn about women’s football players.

Girls Football Week is on the horizon too – stay tuned for more news about that very soon! We’ll be supporting it again for the third year in a row.

So yes, I can’t help thinking that right now it’s great being female and a follower and participant of the women’s game. Things really are growing and getting better and it’s a really exciting time!

Football Mum of the Year 2015

So as I’ve mentioned several times, we were invited to the McDonald’s Football Mum of the Year launch at Petts Wood FC back at the start of May. H had an hour-long training session with Casey Stoney MBE (as announced yesterday – how brilliant is that?) and we got to interview Casey. Actually, I got to interview her as H was a bit shy.

Football Mum of the Year

Football Mum of the Year can be anyone you know who is a mum who helps football matches exist, who helps a child make it to games just by making sure their kit is washed. If you drive your child to football, that counts too!

All you need to do is nominate the mum and the judges (which also include Colleen Rooney) will decide – and you’ll be presented with an award on the 2nd August at Wembley.

So what has changed in the last month? H is back playing football again – Casey’s enthusiasm with the youngsters has definitely helped reignite her love. We’re watching all the England games at the Women’s World Cup (and any others we can catch) and H feels very involved. She gets excited when she sees Casey on the screen – and that’s the other thing about women’s football – it is so much more affordable and accessible than the men’s game. I think H may have a new favourite player in Fran Kirby, so we may be trying to make it to a Reading Ladies game sometime too.

I finally edited the interview we did with Casey. The camera work was done by Shaun, I think you can hear everything, so here it is for your enjoyment too. Congrats Casey on the MBE, and thank you again for letting us interview. Come on England!

Thank you again to Casey Stoney and Red Consultancy for inviting us – we had a brilliant time! 

Football Mum of the Year

Two weeks ago we were invited along to Petts Wood FC for an hour-long training session with Casey Stoney, the England and Arsenal Ladies footballer, to celebrate the launch of McDonald’s Football Mum of the Year.

Football Mum of the Year

Football Mum of the Year is an award to celebrate us mum’s who make football happen – and the launch we attended involved H and the other kids having a training session with Casey Stoney – a nice simple training session too. The children had to imagine they were on a pirate ship and complete a few tasks – from kicking the ball from one side to the other, and chasing the ball as Casey rolled it down the pitch, or just running as quick as they could to Casey to give her a high five. You don’t need a field to do these exercises, you can do them at home too – all you need is a brick wall (for kicking balls against) and you’re set! (preferably outdoors)

Football Mum of the Year
I’ve already done a quick writeup about how the experience has changed H – how something plugged in with her again and her love of playing football reappeared. The last two weeks have been quite remarkable. She is now playing football with Carshalton Athletic every Saturday we can make it, and is really enjoying playing again. I’m a Football Mum again! I get H’s clothes ready, I wash them, I do her hair, I make sure her shinpads are clean and I make a mental note I need to get her new tracksuit bottoms and socks because she has grown. Again. I make sure her footwear is the right kind and fits. Oh, and pack a fleece in case it’s windy, and be at the side ready for a quick hug if she falls over and feels sad.

Do you know a football mum? It doesn’t have to be someone who takes their child to football – what about the mums who make sure everything is ready to make it happen for their child? Or someone who helps a club exist maybe? Or even does fundraising. If you know someone, then why not nominate them for the Football Mum of the Year Awards? The winner will be presented with their award on the 2nd September at Wembley! You just need to vote here.

Football Mum of the Year
I grew up watching York City in my teens, and before H was born we went to Tottenham games as often as we could. My dream is to take H to games and her to enjoy them as much as we did. When Shaun first arrived in the UK from Australia, football had to be his sport – even if he resisted supporting my two teams to start with! So poor old H has no choice, but fortunately she seems happy with the teams she has (thank you Harry Kane, five year olds like players who score lots of goals).

Football Mum of the Year

We’ve bought tickets for the Women’s FA Cup Final on the 1st August this year, to take H to Wembley for the first time (she missed the England v Germany game due to being ill) and I know she’ll enjoy it, watching her first big game as a neutral. Let’s not forget the Women’s World Cup this summer too – Casey Stoney has been selected for the team as well, so H has been really proud she might see someone she’s met playing football on tv soon!

Also, I’ve never played a game of football in my life. But that doesn’t stop me supporting my daughter and making it happen. If you know someone else that does that, get nominating!

Football Mum of the Year

Here’s a video which was produced on our morning out – look out for our blink-and-you-miss-it appearance! My interview with Casey will go live as soon as I get a chance.

Football For Everyone

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.

casey high five

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.

casey training

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.

interviewing Casey Stoney

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.