So thanks to the amazing #WomenInSport Campaign in association with Vitality I got the very exciting opportunity to go to Liverpool and meet some of the Ladies of Liverpool FC. The lovely ladies in question were Jess Clarke, Caroline Weir and Laura Coombs.
Before I go further into the interesting insights they were able to share with myself and the lovely Charlotte and Amy, as some of the top Women In Sport – I’d just like to let you know how this how amazing campaign has affected me in such a positive way, not just getting to meet new inspiring people and take part in fun activities but also mentally.
I am so grateful that I said “yes!”
Just like my #WomenInSport teammate, Laura shared in her blog post “How To Not Let Fear Stop You From Living Your Life” I also feel that the #WomenInSport campaign has helped me work past some of my own fears and anxieties and got me doing and experiencing things I never thought I would. One of those things being travelling to Liverpool – I know it doesn’t sound something major to most people, but for me to say yes to this and travel somewhere I’d never been before was quite the breakthrough for me and one I am exceptionally grateful for. I am also indefinitely appreciative that I went through this in the delightful company of Charlotte and Amy, it made the just over two-hour journey seem like no time at all!
It was then brilliant to get to see some of the Liverpool Ladies train and see first hand all the hard work that goes into it.
To then get to have a chat with some of these Ladies was great – here’s what these Ladies kindly shared with us…
How do you balance life, the team and everything else?
“Obviously now we’re a lot more professional so the majority of players are full time so we’re lucky enough to be able to come to work every day, train and play, but I know talking from the past obviously getting into football wasn’t as professional then for me as I’ve been in the game a long time now and there was a stage there where I was working, so I would be working in a hotel, then trying to balance my studies as I was at Loughborough at the time, so trying to earn money at the same time as well as playing was quite difficult but it was something I always wanted to do and feel now I’ve reaped the rewards so to speak, you know just plugging away and sticking with it kind of thing.”
How old were you when you started playing?
“Probably around eight or nine (this will cheer my daughter as she’d like to play and has just turned eight, though I feel this is partly because she doesn’t like her little brother being better at something than her!) I think it was my school teacher that actually helped me get into football and she took me to a local team and it just kind of grew from there.”
“Bit different to Jess, I started playing when I was five and joined a boys team because back then where I lived at the time there were no girls teams, I was the only girl in a boys team it didn’t really bother me at all and played there when I was five until I was ten, so quite young, and then when I was ten I moved to an all-girls team. From then on it just progressed and lucky enough for me when I was 18 I signed for a professional team and because time has moved on a bit from when Jess was 18 it had all become professional, I was lucky enough to become professional since the age of 18, after school. Obviously it’s what I always wanted to do from when I was literally about five or six I always wanted to play football, professionally I didn’t know if it was possible at the time but lucky enough time moved on and the opportunity was there for me to do it so it’s great, I obviously enjoy it. It kind of becomes your whole life like social side, it’s not a normal job, it’s not a normal 9-5, it takes up a lot of your time and it’s hard to plan ahead, you miss out on family things and stuff like that because you’re away at football but obviously the perks outweigh the drawbacks. It’s great, and it’s great to be part of a team and that kind of becomes your whole social thing as well, we all get on really well off of the pitch and do things off the pitch.”
Do you do stuff together?
“Yeah we try to, probably not as much as we should do but we do try to do things completely away from football and take our minds off of it, that’s really important as it does get quite full on and intense. It is important to have other things going on.”
What you say are the main benefits of being part of a team are?
“I’d say for me I think I was quite introverted as a youngster so then obviously coming out your comfort zone, like you have to step out of your comfort zone to speak to players and to involve yourself in the team aspect side of things, so I feel for me like I know I’ve got some great friends from football and they’ll always be in my life, looking at that, it’s a real positive.”
“I was similar actually, I went to an all-girls school and found I didn’t really have that much in common with a lot of the other girls and it wasn’t until I joined the girls team that I actually met people that had similar interests to you and actually had real friendships rather than just sort of the people you just see at school, so yeah it definitely helped me get some confidence.”
How do you get balance – fit in family time, seeing your other friends?
“I think that’s one of the biggest challenges, like I was saying earlier it [football] does kind of consume your whole life. We obviously get time off, but during the season it’s kind of game after game, and we all live away from home as well so our families are quite far away, so it’s only when we get a couple of days off can we really go and see them. So I think that’s probably the hardest challenge, well for me anyway, and you miss out on things but at the same time it’s good because you’re doing a job that you love so you can kind of accept it a little bit, but sometimes it does get a bit tough.”
How do you feel you handle days where you don’t feel so motivated – what gets you through, do you think it is a lot to do with the team aspect of it?
“I think you know there’s always going to be light at the end of the tunnel even though you’re having a bad day, I know that myself sometimes you can be stuck in a rut, stuck in a routine but you know that you’re going to have a session where you’re going to have a good session or you’re going to have a game where you’re going to have a good impact on the game that just makes you remember why you’re doing it and why you love the game.”
What do think about the way women’s football is portrayed in the media, do you think it’s slowly coming up?
“I think so, I think the women’s game has come on such a long way, especially after the European Championships, where more and more female players became household names. However, when you look women’s football on a weekly basis there is still a lack of coverage in newspapers and on TV. There is still some way to go to increase the level of coverage across all media. That said, women’s sport is definitely finding itself more and more at the top of the news agenda, particularly after the many success stories we saw last summer in women’s football, cricket and other sports”
Do your families get to come out to see you at all or is that a bit of a struggle?
“Yeah, my family get to some games, they live in Scotland, so they come down here sometimes for certain games. They tend to go to more of the Scotland games when we go up there. But yeah, they try to come to as many games as possible.”
“My parents go to all the down south games, they try to come up sometimes but it’s quite far.”
“I feel like I’ve got a good balance of support where I need it football wise and I’ve also got that get away kind of thing.”
What do you guys do when you have a great game, how do you celebrate, do you celebrate as a team?
“It depends on the game doesn’t it?”
Jess & Laura:
“If it’s a league game and we’ve got a game the next week then we probably won’t celebrate too much. If it’s cup final we’d probably celebrate a little bit more. But it does depend on the game and if we’ve got another game close, coming up.”
How do you deal with setbacks, do you have a mantra you can say to get you back on track?
“Just “Tomorrows a new day”. Any game you play is never going to be a perfect game or training session, you’re always going make mistakes so it’s just learning to overcome them mistakes and knowing that it is just part of the game. I think that’s the difference of playing at the highest standards and the lower standards, we know that’s part and parcel of it, it helps us as players improve.”
“Though we train every day the training is never the same so it’s always different challenges and chance to be better at whatever you’re doing the last day. You kind of start afresh every day really, don’t you? So if you’ve had a really rubbish training session yesterday – tomorrow will be a new day and you can come back stronger.”
I will be forever grateful to these Ladies for kindly giving us their time and it was fun to have a pass around of the ball in the changing room after our chat – we, unfortunately, couldn’t get out on the pitch to have a kick around due to the joyous British weather of rain, but it didn’t spoil the experience in the slightest.
I just have to add after leaving the Ladies and before heading home we did have the most delicious meal at The London Carriage Works – it was so good! Highly recommend a visit there if you ever find yourself in Liverpool.
What I take from this experience and from all the events I have attended, be it football, hockey or netball, you can feel the camaraderie and the joy that is gained from being part of a team. I also know that someday I want to go back to Liverpool and explore the city properly! Thank you again Vitality for providing me with this phenomenal experience.