Our Wildcats Time Comes to an End, Sadly

This week we received an email, letting us know that our Saturday football sessions with Crystal Palace Wildcats will finish.

H at SSE Crystal Palace Wildcats

Which makes several young girls aged 5-11 quite sad.

Wildcats are girls-only football sessions which we’ve been attending since we did some work with the FA. We have an awesome group of girls, we meet almost every Saturday whatever the weather and we play football. We train, we learn skills and we have fun.

But not for much longer.

I had noticed several clubs starting extra Wildcats sessions around the country, and Crystal Palace weren’t alone in this, starting three extra sessions.

Crystal Palace Wildcats sessions 2018

Which leaves me wondering – has it all been too much? Have SSE stopped sponsoring Wildcats and actually the clubs can’t afford to do this, so these sessions are the first thing to go? Has the FA pulled funding?

We don’t have answers, just that there’s an opportunity to move to Caterham Pumas.

But it does make me wonder, If that was the case, why didn’t they set up Caterham Pumas Wildcats?

Although then we wouldn’t have had our amazing coaches, Charlotte and Sophie. They have made such a massive difference to all of the girls, bringing a love of football to their Saturday mornings. H used to be someone the boys wouldn’t pass to, to now being someone who will try and get a ball from the boys.

They have been brilliant, and we’re all gutted that won’t have training sessions with them any more. They made a difference.

It does make me wonder. Is it about money? Everything to do with women’s football is to do with money. Look at the new league structure. Coincidentally, Crystal Palace Ladies were accepted into Women’s Premiership on the same day we got our email saying the sessions would no longer exist. I’m sure the two incidents aren’t linked…

So, onwards we go, having to find another club to play football. I can only hope any future coach gives H the support and confidence which got her to the level she plays now. I’m hoping that all her friends she made make the switch as well…

Thank you Charlotte and Sophie. You made a difference to a lot of girls and will continue to do so. Thank you for taking the time out to make a difference.

We’re Cheering England in the Football!

Are you watching the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Finals? We are – all the games are on Eurosport so we’ve been watching a LOT of football.

scoring a goal in football

England are on a roll – we won all the matches in the group stage (which was pretty tense at times) setting up a Quarter Final with France.

Women’s Football is still a funny old game though.

This last week The FA launched a campaign with Disney, asking the England Women’s players which Disney Princess they identified with the most. Alas, they didn’t also ask the England Men which character they identified with too…

We recently bought an Amazon Echo which has been brilliant for a lot of things. We’ve been asking Alexa what the football scores are (when a game has been too good and we don’t want to flick between channels in case we miss a goal) and she hasn’t been able to answer. I flagged this, and received this as a reply from Amazon.

Hello,

I understand that Alexa is providing the sports update for men’s football but not for the women’s football scores.

I’ve checked our records and I’d like to let you know that, Currently Alexa doesn’t support women’s football sports update as this feature is not available on Alexa.

As this is a newly launched device in UK, there are few features which need to be added. However, we are constantly working to add more features to the device at the earliest possible. I’ve forwarded your message to our Amazon Echo development team for consideration as we make further improvements.

I’m sure that they’ll carefully look into this and take necessary actions in the nearest future. I’d like to thank you for bringing this into our notice and please be assured that we’ll try to bring this option to the earliest.

Let’s hope so, eh?

Friday night @paniniukofficial sticker time #weuro2017 #paninistickers

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Meanwhile, in the neverending quest to fill H’s Euro 2017 Panini Sticker Book, shops are running out of stickers. This must mean they’ve been really popular – I’ve seen the starter kits at our local WH Smiths, they don’t stock the refills though. So far I’ve seen them in WH Smiths and Sainsburys, and that’s all. Things are getting better. Slowly.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an England Football Lottie doll? H has several, including the football kit – Brownie Lottie and Football Lottie watched the match together, apparently.

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H now has a subscription to She Kicks magazine – she’ll get a copy every month, and we’re loving the current Euro 2017 edition. If you want information about the Women’s game, then She Kicks is the place to go. In fact, it’s the only place to go – and it’s a great place to go.

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I had a conversation with one of our football-mad Brownies a couple of weeks ago. “Are you looking forward to the Women’s Euros?” I asked. “Oh, I don’t follow Women’s Football” she replied. I pointed out she was such a good footballer what if she ended up being a future Lioness… I think this is the problem with the women’s game. The funding of things like the SSE Wildcats groups needs to continue. Keep making football affordable and fun. Awareness is getting out there, make more clubs available for girls to attend.

A post shared by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Accept that girls will like the men’s game as much as the women’s game, and make sure information about the women’s game is available. Get England Women playing at Wembley again. I realise this is difficult due to Tottenham playing there this season, but in the last three years they’ve played there once – opting for games in stadiums around the country for friendlies instead.

McDonalds sponsor a lot of Grassroots football. When England do well, get players on adverts on tv – you know, like they do with other sportsmen and women. Let’s have players getting equal billing alongside the men so people stop saying “who’s that?” and know exactly who they’re watching.

Things are getting better – having Little Mix do their Euro 2017 Salute campaign was brilliant! Even if half the girls at Wildcats weren’t keen on Little Mix they were happy to do a salute for England!

H doing her #salute for England’s #lionesses #weuro2017 #wecanplay

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Most SSE Wildcats sessions are coming to an end now, and we’ve found out Crystal Palace will continue. Our sessions have moved up in price from £1 a week to £3 which is still affordable. As well as this you can select which weeks you want to go.  We’ve decided to stick with Wildcats as despite our local club offering free sessions for girls, I feel like H is progressing better alongside other girls right now. That may change in the future but for now it’s what works best for us and we’re lucky to have the choice.

Assuming that England qualify for the 2019 World Cup in France, we’re definitely going. Definitely.

Just yesterday it was announced that Arsenal Ladies were going to be known as just Arsenal. The only time their gender will come into it is when it needs to. This is awesome news and I hope more clubs follow.

Of course, it also goes without saying, boys like women’s football too. Don’t shut them out while trying to encourage girls to play….

FA Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations

future tottenham player, FA Girls' Football Week

Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations are happening NOW!

Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations are happening at the same time as the UEFA Women’s European Finals this year. England’s Lionesses are one of the favourites to win the UEFA Women’s European finals too. We beat Scotland the other night 6-0, and tomorrow night face Spain.

FA Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations happen this year from the 16th July to the 6th August 2017. It is a national campaign to raise the profile of female football and double the number of girls playing by 2020.

Last year more than 130,000 girls took part in sessions. This was in schools, universities, colleges, clubs, community groups and other organisations country-wide.  Activities include playing, training or just learning more about football.

Warming up with SSE Wildcats, FA Girls' Football Week 

Organisations can register their regular activities on the site, or start something new. It’s loads of fun and longer than a week this year too. It is a great chance to showcase female football from grassroots to England at the Euro’s, and to help inspire new players and volunteers.

FA Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations happen once a year every year – we’ve written about it before (2015 and 2016). We’ve always been lucky that there are football events near us, though a couple of years ago the word hadn’t really spread. As time has progressed everyone knows about it. Add to this the launch of a new website, For Girls.

For Girls is the FA’s website which is for women’s football – there are profiles for all our England players, with plenty of facts and information. There are news articles and loads of things which are relevant to the women’s game.

Wouldn’t it be brilliant if England won the Euro’s? It was so close in the World Cup two years ago. Watching two years ago I felt a different sense of pride towards the game. It really meant something when I’d fallen out of love with the England men’s game. It was like we were the underdogs of our own country. Nobody expected us to do as well as we did. But we were brilliant! We came away so proud of the Lionesses achievement finishing third.

So now Girls’ Football Week is celebrating the Euro’s with the Lionesses and loads of activities for girls all tied in.

SSE Wildcats Girls Football Club, FA Girls' Football Week

We’ve been going to the SSE Wildcats at Crystal Palace weekly since our first session which H LOVES attending. I’m seeing a whole new side to her since we started, with far more confidence. She wants to be the goalkeeper or a defender and is bossing the rest of her team from the back and knows where her other players should be. Our Wildcats sessions are over (we can’t make the last two sessions) and are going to start again in September, going up to December – and I’m delighted. You can book here, sessions are based in Caterham and are £3 a time.

Girls' Football Week Euro Celebrations
Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations with Coach Charlotte. H got a Lionesses sports headband (which is perfect for her) and a new water bottle – as well as player pictures, a wallchart and an SSE Wildcats certificate.

Today we had a Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations session, with games featuring the England players and goodies for the girls afterwards – Lionesses ones too! Right now H feels like she’s a part of it, and that’s brilliant. It helps the support and even if she isn’t the best football player out there, she’s playing and having fun. That’s what it’s all about – taking part.

FA Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations has a website – head over here for more information to find out what is planned where you live. Our group did their Salute for England (which is not yet online) – have yours yet?

This is part of the FA Project we have been participating in. We have received a fee for our time. 

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!

UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Finals Panini Sticker Book

UEFA Womens Euro 2017 Panini Sticker Book
Rejoice, rejoice! Panini have brought out a UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Finals sticker book! It’s out now, available in stores.

Panini have brought out the first ever UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Finals sticker book – and it’s available now! This is a REALLY big deal, as it has never happened before.

Back in the 80s I used to subscribe to Shoot! magazine – a football magazine famous for its League Ladders and facts about footballers across all clubs. My favourite week was always the one that featured the Tottenham team, obviously. But you had to wait…

My other favourite week was getting a free Football League Panini Stickers album – plus a few stickers to start you off. I’d spend my pocket money on Jukebox 7″ singles at our local supermarket alongside several packs of Panini stickers to complete my collection.

H is now at the age where she gets enough pocket money she knows to save it up to spend it on something she really wants. When I spotted that Panini have launched a UEFA Women’s Euro finals sticker book I had to buy it as a treat – start ’em young, right?

UEFA Womens Euro 2017 Panini Sticker Book Norway team and badge

The sticker book covers all clubs from the forthcoming European finals, plus has a team badge and full team photo on each page. I found a book in Sainsbury’s. The book contains six stickers inside plus a couple of packs. I bought six more packs, you can never have too many.

UEFA Womens Euro 2017 Panini Sticker Book starter pack

The collection consists of a 40 page album with 334 stickers to collect. There are 22 special stickers to look out for too. The starter set costs £2.99 and consists of the book and 24 stickers to start you off. Each pack of stickers is 60p for five. Panini also offer you the option to order up any spaces online. That means no more having to save the backs of your old stickers before ordering.

UEFA Womens Euro 2017 Panini Sticker Book switzerland page

There are familiar names from the 2014 World Cup alongside players we’ll get to learn about. There are familiar names from the games we’ve seen, predominantly the England Lionesses of course, but also some Dutch players.

UEFA Womens Euro 2017 Panini Sticker Book England page

This leads us onto our next ‘can we do it?’ moment. We’re going to try and fly out to The Netherlands to catch a game if the flights are reasonable. We don’t even mind not seeing England, it’ll be something fun to do. The games are affordable, so it wouldn’t cost us a lot. We have a friend who lives in The Netherlands who we could stay with… very tempting!

We bought our Panini UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Finals book ourselves, let us know if you get any doubles!

that familiar Panini sight

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SSE Wildcats Girls’ Football with Crystal Palace FC

SSE Wildcats Girls Football Club

Football is for everyone. Over the course of this summer SSE and the FA have created training sessions in conjunction with several football clubs around the country. These are sessions exclusively for girls, SSE Wildcats clubs. As part of our FA Project with Britmums we signed up with the group at Crystal Palace.

Have fun, make friends, play football is their slogan and so far H is doing all three!

SSE Wildcats are hour-long sessions run by various football clubs around the country. We visited the Crystal Palace group about 20 minutes drive away. Sutton United also run classes nearby.

Warming up with SSE Wildcats

We went along for one session, and have decided to continue – and it’s because they’re brilliant.

H is still convinced she wants to be a goalkeeper… in her second session she had that chance and felt proud to get praise from her coaches for some of the saves she did (and there were some good ones – I’m not biased!).

An SSE Wildcats session tends to start with some fun stuff, kicking the ball around and warming up.

Warming up with SSE Wildcats

Games like ‘Stuck in the Mud’ and ‘Foxes and Farmers’ are played to get the girls running around and improving their spatial awareness.

The girls are paired up to work on skills. Tackling to get the ball from their opponent, things like that. The two female coaches are always checking and let them know if there are things that could change.

Warming up with SSE Wildcats

Finally the girls end up having five or six a side games which depend on how many girls turn up. H likes going in goal and bossing her team around, encouraging them to run up front so she can pass the ball to her. Do we have a future Karen Bardsley here?

That’s when the fun starts – and some swapping around if one team dominates too much. At the end both sides shake hands, and their coach gets a picture of them with the SSE Wildcats sign.

It’s great fun – and H loves it. She loves football anyway, and this is another reason to get her going again.

future england player

We used to train with Crystal Palace and Carshalton Athletic a few years ago and she was frequently the only girl. Often the boys wouldn’t pass the ball to her and she’d run around not too fed up but we could see. With it being all-girls you don’t get any of that.

Right now it’s about getting her confidence up again.

I have to add her lack of confidence isn’t due to previous classes, we need to get her skills back!

The SSE Wildcats sessions run throughout the summer and there’s a possibility they could continue. If this funding doesn’t continue then Crystal Palace are likely to keep it going. That’s brilliant news as there will still be opportunities for girls. They’re a friendly little group and H is making new friends.

future tottenham player

Crystal Palace SSE Wildcats currently have 29 girls registered. Their target is 30 and the space they have can accommodate more than that. My gut feeling is that after the UEFA European Championships even more girls will want to sign up and play. I’m hoping England do well and am considering trying to get to a game. After our last World Cup success coming third, wouldn’t it be amazing if our England Lionesses won?

To find out your local session head here. Our session costs £1 per week – prices vary, but are low. This may change once the initial SSE Wildcats period is over. All clubs run on a weekly basis and are on different nights of the week. Crystal Palace are on Saturday mornings.

We attended the Crystal Palace SSE Wildcats session with thanks to the FA and Britmums. We have received a fee for our time, this does not change our opinion of these sessions. Please note – all photos of the girls have had their faces removed to protect their privacy. 

Please see our other posts that are part of the FA Project – when we went to the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final for the third year running and when we watched an FA WSL Spring Series game.

Here are the other bloggers taking part – Chelle took Fizz to see Brighton play

North East Family Fun caught Sunderland

Baby Budgeting at Wembley

 

SSE Women’s FA Cup Final 2016 – Arsenal v Chelsea

We went to the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final 2016 – Arsenal v Chelsea.

If you had told me eight or nine years ago that I’d be happily going to Wembley to watch Arsenal play Chelsea in the Women’s FA Cup Final 2016, I’d have laughed at you. What on EARTH would I want to go and see either of those teams for?

In fact, I’d still say it now if it was the men’s team, as we’re a Tottenham supporting family and their supporters aren’t the most friendly to ours, and vice versa. (apart from the ones we’re friends with, of course)
Wembley Stadium Instagram Selfie

However, when looking at the Women’s game, it’s different. For one thing, with the smaller crowds, everyone is far more pleasant. Knowing this from having gone last year, I bought tickets and we popped to Wembley.

Wembley Stadium SSE giant sponge hands

It was nice going as a neutral and such a great atmosphere for H to experience again. Things were almost identical to last season, we were lucky to get the only goal of the game at our side of the field, H was happy as she got to see Casey Stoney and Fran Kirby play.

SSE (who sponsor the Women’s FA Cup) were handing out free giant sponge hands and rattles. It was far more pleasant than when we’ve been to some Tottenham games vs either of these teams on the men’s side.

There was no swearing, no shouting, just cheering, clapping and a good happy atmosphere.

Wembley Stadium Women's FA Cup Final 2016 seats, Women's FA Cup Final 2016

Oh, and the whole thing cost us £20. Adults were £15, students £5 with all children going free. How good a deal is that?

We had a brilliant afternoon, and H was happy as she saw several of her favourite players.

If you ever want to take your child to a football match and are worried about aggressive behaviour or swearing, the women’s game has much less of that going on – and is just as fun.

Wembley Stadium players warm up, women's fa cup final 2016

(actually, as a sidenote, I remember taking H to see Carshalton Athletic play. There was a note for the crowds to remind everyone it’s a family club and to mind their language. The players cursed loudly enough for us to find it quite comical…. ho hum)

We’re taking H to see England play at the end of the month at Wembley. It’ll be our first time watching Harry Kane play. It’ll be H’s first men’s game and I know the atmosphere will be different, even being in the family stand.

Girls’ Football Week 2016

Girls’ Football Week 2016 is back – starting next week, Monday 25th April to Sunday 1st May.

Girls Football Week, H in goal, girls' football week

Girls’ Football Week 2016 comes from the FA, and is set up to encourage girls to get involved with the beautiful game. There was a similar event last year which we covered here.

We’ve had a quiet start to the year, our Saturdays no longer at Carshalton – not because we’re stopping but because H has been exhausted with school. But soon we’ll be back for her Saturday morning kickabouts. Even though we haven’t been for a while, we’re still watching games on tv. It’s an exciting time to be a football supporter at the moment – from us as Tottenham supporters (what on EARTH is going on? Fantastic season), to York supporters (hanging on by a thread to the Football League) – and of course all the Women’s games that are on at the moment – which can be watched on BT Sport so are accessible to loads of people.

Add to that the Women’s FA Cup final (Arsenal v Chelsea) is happening next month at Wembley. Children under 18 can go for free, and it’s a fantastic time to be involved. I love that women’s games are super-affordable and we can take H along, and she enjoys it.

Now we have Girls’ Football Week 2016, which starts next week. It aims to increase the participation of girls within the game – and you can sign up here.  There was a week of events last October, which didn’t filter down to Carshalton Athletic. I’ll be sending them the link to make sure they get involved. I’ll be making sure WE get involved again!

There’s a great ticket initiative, on a strict first come first served basis, if your school or club signs up, then you can apply for some free tickets for women’s games – for more information head here.

Football Mum of the Year, girls' football week

I love that we can watch the women’s game and not have the same feelings towards the teams as we do with the men’s. Her favourite player is still Fran Kirby. She has her England shirt with Casey Stoney’s name on the back – still going strong.

I’ve always loved football, and my love of the game has been passed on to H. She’s a lucky girl getting to see the England Men’s team next month. We’re hoping Harry Kane gets to play, then we can all watch him at a game rather than on tv!

If you have a love of football, help spread the word! Girls’ Football Week 2016 starts next week, so you don’t have long!

The FA Launches Girls Football Week 2015

Today the FA has launched Girls Football Week 2015 – running until the 11th October 2015.

saturday football, Girls Football Week

Girls Football Week 2015 is an initiative to encourage schools to create more female football training sessions.

It is being delivered in partnership with Independent Schools FA, English Schools FA, Association of Colleges Sport and British Universities and Colleges Sport.

This year the programme has been extended to Primary and Secondary schools, colleges and universities as well as clubs and community groups.

Last year more than 2000 people took part in Girls Football Week over 80 groups – and this year the FA are hoping Girls Football Week 2015 will encourage over 5000 girls to take part.

Football Mum of the Year, Girls Football Week

The FA has some free resources to help schools set up sessions, and more information can be found here.

You can find more information here for each relevant group about Girls Football Week 2015.

Primary schools: www.TheFA.com/Skills
Secondary schools: www.TheFA.com/Schools
Colleges: www.ecfa.org.uk/development/womens-football.aspx
Universities: www.bucs.org.uk/womensfootballoffer

H plays football every weekend at Carshalton Athletic, who are now talking about setting up an Under 8’s team, which H hopes to be involved in. I’ve offered my social media services with the Women’s team, in the hope it will help spread the word (as I have no idea when they’re playing and would love to help). H loves football now – she enjoys playing and has decided she wants to be a goalkeeper these days – and seems to be getting better at saving goals too.

Girls Football Week, H in goal

None of this could be possible, were it not for the way girls are accepted in football training sessions. At Carshalton Athletic girls go free which I think is a wonderful scheme and one which keeps us going back. I really hope that H gets to represent her local team as I know she’d be so proud. She gets opportunities I never had, and I love that she loves the game as much as I do.

Do you have a girl who plays football? Don’t forget the FA’s ‘We Can Play’ campaign, tag your photos with the hashtag – and help spread the word! After the wonderful Women’s World Cup this year, there’s a real momentum and I hope it continues. We won’t talk about the last England Euro qualifier which didn’t make it onto tv, mind. H’s favourites are still Casey Stoney and Fran Kirby. She loves Harry Kane just as much. It’s all good.

H Loves Football – and We Can Play

The FA has launched a new campaign, We Can Play.

We can play is a new campaign from The FA.

When you’re in my vicinity and share living space with me, there isn’t a lot of choice – football is a part of it.

When Shaun first came to the UK we saw York City play – vs Hull City. He adopted Hull of course. We allowed him to change his team just the once, as long as it was Tottenham, which he duly, eventually did.

H watching tottenham

So, when H was born football was going to be her game. When she was a baby she watched games with me. She had no idea what was going on, but has grown up with it from birth. I was on maternity leave for the 2010 World Cup – talk about good timing! As soon as she could speak, the names Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Harry Redknapp were taught. She even made a Gareth Bale out of Hama Beads. Harry Kane is her hero at the moment, and rightly so.

Once she turned four I took her for lessons with Crystal Palace which started out well but didn’t end as well as I’d hoped. She enjoyed playing, and that was all that mattered to me. But when she stopped enjoying it, tearfully asking if she could stop, we had a break. Her friends had all gone to different clubs and it wasn’t the same.

Introducing H-oddle – Tuesday football time #crystalpalacefoundation

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

All this time I’d been looking out for England Women games to go to, having missed one in Brighton by a matter of hours – so when they got to play at Wembley vs Germany, I booked us tickets – at last! Except on the morning of the game H was sick – properly sick. We couldn’t go as she was too unwell so caught it on television instead.

Fast forward to May of this year, and H had a training session with Casey Stoney, the former England captain – and she got back her love of playing the game. I asked around for clubs to play at, and found our local Carshalton Athletic – who are brilliant. Other girls go, the coach wants to set up a girls’ team, and things are progressing in a really positive way. Girls go free to encourage them to join in – one week we had seven girls; enough for a team!

Football Mum of the Year, we can play

We’ve gone almost every week and H loves it. Her friends all come along too – all girls. They really fight back at the boys to get the ball and aren’t fazed by it. They’re happy when they score goals and not happy when they lose. They take it all incredibly seriously, and it’s great to see. H plays because she wants to play, not because she has to. It’s different.

This weekend we’re going to the Women’s FA Cup Final at Wembley – we bought tickets way back when we spotted the game on the big screens outside the ground (on the way to Wembley Arena for Disney On Ice), catching the last days of Early Bird prices – so that’s £23 for the three of us. Notts County v Chelsea – and we’re going as neutrals as we still haven’t chosen a Women’s team to support.

The Women’s World Cup has made such an impression on H. Of course girls can do it too, but when you’re five you need to see it, and that’s what the World Cup did. The fact we came third and have players H remembers means that she wants to name her new Build a Bear, Fran Kirby! It could have so easily been a Frozen character. Football and Frozen are on the same level for my daughter now.

It makes me sad to see some of the England squad have full time jobs, but I love where it is coming from. It’s people playing football because they want to, not in it for the money, but that’s just what they do. If only the men’s game had more players like Harry Kane. He has a fantastic attitude and is a great role model with no scandals to speak of.

Things are changing with the women’s game. H is part of a new generation of girls who will have it easier playing football, because people like Casey Stoney fought to play games back when she was young.

It’s normal. It’s going to get better. This is why we support the #WeCanPlay FA Campaign. You can sign up to receive a newsletter and there’s also a handy link to find your local club.