Tag: Football (page 2 of 3)

Feeling the Love

Image: Lee Mills, Action Images

Image: Lee Mills, Action Images

Last night Gareth Southgate came to Hackney Laces present the Barclays Community Sports Award to us (no big deal). It wasn’t your standard celebrity outing,where they turn up, take a few photos and sign a few shirts and take off. He was so genuine, giving over an hour and a half of his time and answering a million plus one questions very candidly – even ones about that unfortunate penalty miss in the 1996 European Championship, which I’m sure he gets asked on a daily basis (sorry Gareth).

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This is What a Footballer Looks Like

It’s incredibly frustrating when you tell people you play football and they respond with ‘why?’ or a series of other questions. Women playing football feels like a foreign concept to many – it must be, given the things I get asked quite regularly as of late.

These questions range from, “but your boyfriend plays, right?” to, “are you American?”. I also get asked “do you play with the offside rule?” and “are your matches 90 minutes?”. I also hear “but you don’t look like a footballer” often. These questions and statements seem to facilitate a guided discovery process to ignorant people that need to prescribe a reason as to why a woman plays or has an interest in football.

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Bloody Loyalty

I’ve met some fiercely loyal supporters of football clubs. Ones that have tattoos of, have named children after, and would do just about anything for their club. Intense. And emosh.

This begs the question: what would you do for your club? Would you give some blood? (I would)

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Wanted: New Teammates

A new season is upon us and it’s time to start recruiting some new talent. I started playing for Hampstead this season and they’re a lovely bunch of women. If you’re into football and meeting new people, come along to some of the summer sessions to see if you’d like to join the squad.

Football Clubs as Coops

The way football clubs are funded is broken. From the Premier League all the way down to grassroots clubs. Broken. And financially unsustainable. It’s not aspirational to have multi- millionaire’s pumping money into clubs, making players salaries extortionate amounts. What example does it set to young footballers? Be talented. Make £250,000 per week.

Grassroots clubs on the other hand rely heavily on grant funds, cash from local authorities, subs from players and fundraisers. I’ve lost count of the number of football fundraisers I’ve both attended and organised. Of course these type of events are fun, lovely and a great way to support teams, but hitting up friends and family for money and all the effort that goes into bake sales, pub quizzes and tournaments is massive and completely reliant on passionate people to organise . There has to be a better way.

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The Man with the Arsenal Tattoo

Here’s a scenario: you’re in Kenya, somewhere between the rift valley and Nairobi. The car you’re in gets a flat tyre. Your driver doesn’t speak much english. So you sit on the road side looking at the trees thinking of ways to pass the time.

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Football Club Rules

This week at Laces we decided it was time to come up with some club rules. These are rules to go by when at training and just generally as part of the team. I asked every player to write down a rule or two that they thought was important. And here’s what they came up with:

(Note: training starts at 530pm)

Hackney’s Newest Football Club

Beginning November 1st, I started a 7 week pilot for the project formerly known as ‘Just Another Football Club‘.

It took me a while to decide where I wanted to run the pilot – more importantly, which area lacked sport and community based opportunities for young women (between the ages of 13-17). I met with football folk in Hackney, Camden, Islington and Haringay. After meeting
Pete Blackwell, the London Manager for ‘Reachout!’ a mentoring charity, I was sold on Hackney.

Pete agreed to partner with me and provide pitch space at Petchey Academy where he runs Reachout FC.

Now that the 7 weeks have ended, I’m stoked to say that it has been a success.

Some numbers:

– 21 different players on the register, 10 who consistently come (3 or more weeks)

– 7 text messages, all from different players that read:
“You’ve been sent this message by  07xxxxxxxxx asking you to call them back as they are out of credit. (Normal  charges apply)”

– 4 players who have been there every single week. Amazing dedication.

– 3 brand new shiny players who have never kicked a ball in their life

– 2 weeks of standing outside Petchey when school got let out with flyers, spamming random school kids with leaflets about the session (note: this was on the advice of the school’s groundsman told me to stand outside at 330pm and hand out some info. He said this will be a surefire way to boost numbers. So this is what I did. I stuffed flyers into the hands of school kids with with my email and phone number. Aside from me feeling like a stereotypical overly-enthusiastic North American, it was good. Numbers doubled after doing so. Result.)

– 0 footballs/equipment of any sort lost (I’m pointing this out because it’s normally very rare)

One thing that really surprised me was despite some brutal weather, players would still rock up. As a footballer myself, I know all too well how demotivating it can be playing in the cold, wet British winter.

I could ramble on forever about all of the great stuff that has gone on in the pilot but I’ll stop here and save that for a later post.

Here’s what’s next:

– I’ll be continuing with the session, Tuesday nights at Petchey (working towards a friendly 7-aside match against a nice, beginner to intermediate level side)
– There’s a website on the way alongside the branding, partners and all that jazz
– The membership scheme will be finalised so you and anyone you know can become part-owner of this club for the tiny fee of £10 per year. What a bargain.
– I’m making a rota of footballers (male and female) come out and help with sessions.
– Getting a few of the older girls (16 year olds) on a coaching Level 1 course.

Special mentions:

Trying to get something off the ground is hardwork. Really. And without certain peoples’ support this would likely still be something I’d only dream about doing. So here is my first honour role of lovely people – and there will be plenty more to be added to this. It’s only the beginning.

– Naresh Ramchandani, who aside from having top notch football banter, basically convinced me to quit working for him to pursue this. Oh and did I mention he has re-named and branded it?
@nataliedoyle82 from the London FA for spreading the word
– Pete Blackwell and the crew at Reachout for being crazy helpful and encouraging.
– Orlando from Actis, my newly found mentor. He didn’t bat an eye lid when I pounced on him at a mentoring matchmaking night put on by Unltd.
– Keisha Graham Benjamin (her initials are KGB – funny, right?) for rallying together all the teenaged girls she knows in Hackney. Including multiple members of her family. And a few circus performers.

If you or anyone you know would like to get involved, please do get in touch!

Ps- I gave Glove Love to the team as a Christmas present. It was very well received.

PPs- Apologies for the pictures quality. They were taken on a borrowed Blackberry in the rain.

Fairtrade Footballs

When I was ordering kit for Laces CC a few weeks ago, I searched for ethical footballs. I was looking for something outside of the usual football suspects (Nike, Puma, Adidas), and I came across Fair Corp. After reading about their supply chain and their impressive values, I ordered 7 of their ‘Ethletic’ balls.

At first I was dubious as they came in a small box deflated. Once I put air into them, they looked and felt like standard footballs but were a bit bent out of shape. But then after a few kicks and knocks they were broken in and are just perfect. See?

The girls love the spots on them and I like telling people about them when I’m asked what make they are. If you’re ever in need of ethical fashion and sports equipment, have a look at Fair Corp. They’re good ‘uns.