Survival Guide: When Your Partner Is Not Into Football

My mother always asked me what I would do if I fell in love with someone who was not interested in football. I always waved her off, “pfft, it’s not possible”, yet here we are 10 years later and I’ve been happily coupled up with my non-football-fan for three years now. It’s funny how that works sometimes, as I’m sure I was not the only football-mad teenager who saw myself in a relationship looking a bit like this, having worshipped the likes of Bend It Like Beckham (watched on the plane the other week and cried like a baby, it’s still such a good movie) and She’s The Man. Unfortunately, all the examples used are picturing heterosexual romantic relationships which is far from actual reality, but that’s what was available in the 2000s.

There are both positives and negatives when it comes to the partner (or another close person in your life, like a best friend) not sharing your biggest passion and, for some of us, work. In the list below you can find a wee potpourri of different advice that can be good to keep close on days when you feel misunderstood or things are getting messed up and you’re frustrated – “uuugh, they should’ve known not to book XYZ for the same night as that important game.” We’ve all been there, and sometimes it can be hard to remember that not everyone’s world revolves around game days, silly season and everything in between that you choose to include in your football fandom.

  • Look at it from the bright side: you are relieved of any bickering with your significant other about which team is the best, instead, you can just force your team upon them.
  • Take charge of all holiday booking from now on. Otherwise, you might end up with catastrophes like your other half having booked your flight to Barcelona on the NIGHT OF THE MEN’S WORLD CUP FINAL.
Watching the World Cup final 2018 at the airport
We managed quite a sweet set-up after all …
  • In fact, this gives you another upper hand, as you can sneakily suggest vacation places that coincide with a big game/stadium you want to visit …
  • To make life easier, you should keep a shared calendar, or print out a match schedule that will cover all of the must-see games for the next few months. That way they can’t book in dinners/pub rounds/trips if they haven’t consulted the schedule – and if they still do, it is actually their fault.
  • Communication is key, a cornerstone in any relationship but still worth mentioning, as sometimes it’s easy to forget about something as simple as putting words to your feelings. Let them in on what your feeling after that player transferred to the rival club or your team suffered a really terrible loss. Your person has passions too and can understand what it feels like to really care about something. Which leads us onto the next point …
  • Find their football-equivalent. For example, my partner plays the guitar and performs occasionally, and guess who’s always on the first row? Just because there’s a whole culture around football, and it tends to take up a lot of space/interest, doesn’t mean that people cannot be equally passionate about other things. This is important to remember, and if you want your partner to occasionally engage with/understand your football fandom, you need to show them the same courtesy regarding what they’re really into.
  • It’s easier to engage people during the World Cups, Euros and Copa America, simply because a lot more people find it more tangible to relate to a country rather than a club.
Strike a pose!
For carnival, we were dressed as the qualifying game between Sweden – Italy
  • Write a little guideline book that summarises things such as rules, a short history of the game, which team to cheer for (yours, obviously) as a way to invite them in. In many cases the people who claim that they “don’t get it” are not really disinterested, it’s just that they have never been allowed a “safe” entryway into the game (for example an environment where they feel safe to ask questions without fear of being ridiculed #ReleaseYourInnerBadFootballFan)
  • Remember – it’s all about balance. It can actually be very healthy to be with someone that is not invested in football, as they can offer much-needed switch-off time, something that is vital in today’s ever-faster spinning world. As frustrating as it can be when others can be all in and you’re feeling I want to as well, it many times also makes you really good at appreciating everything, and it gives you different perspectives.
Me and my boyfriend celebrating Tottenham's Champions League win over Ajax
In the midst of realising what just happened and celebrating the hardest I ever have

I hope that this wee survival guide is able to offer you some perspective on sharing life together with someone that is not necessarily that into football. In fact, I would go against my younger self, who couldn’t believe that there was anything other than a day-to-day life with someone who’s as mad about football like me, and say that life is BETTER together with someone that is not a mad hatter about people kicking a ball around. It allows me a place and a pair of arms to come home to, that is not going to ask me about how the London derby went.

Image featured at the top is by Moazzam Brohi.

Issues Of a Minimalist: Keeping Up With Consumerism In Football

In the football world, we’re constantly reminded of how much everyone wants us to spend. The clubs themselves spend obscene amounts of money to buy top players, that they then pay crazy wages in order for them to play. The players themselves oftentimes have very luxurious, spending lifestyles that are impossible to avoid if you happen to follow them on social media. Clubs also need to invest to build new stadiums, or expand their stadiums, for their teams to play in, (taking on sponsors that they plaster everywhere in an often not so good looking way in order to be able to finance it), and it’s all a hamster wheel, in order to keep up clubs need to spend more and more each year, and the spending charts and transfer records break each year (except for at Tottenham #Minimalists).

The excessive spending doesn’t stop with the multi-million-pound companies/clubs on the football market though, as the football world puts increasing pressure on the everyday football fan to spend more and more as the years go by. To keep up, if you’re a local of your club you should really have a season ticket (which are outrageously priced in the men’s game in England, somewhat better in the likes of Germany but still a big cost) and if you can’t, you should at least be able to go to as many games as possible, which holds true even if you’re not a local – the ‘real’ fans take the time and the costs to travel to see their team. If it’s really too far to travel to see the team often, there is the expectation that you should still watch all of the games, which would require a subscription to a broadcast service, something that does not come by cheap. Even if you’re only watching it at the pub, you’ll need to consume something there in order to be allowed to stay and watch the game.

Football shirt collection
My football shirt collection is not that extensive …

There’s also the expectation that you keep up with the latest match kit, shirts that range from £70-90. No matter if you’re a kid or an adult, something that can seem quite trivial, like having a match shirt from your team, becomes painfully vital in the exercising of one’s fandom. It’s a rite of passage of sorts. Then comes things like scarves, t-shirts, key rings, phone cases, books, and other quirky things that can further emphasise what a fan you are. And it’s not as if you can get away with having only one shirt either, most football fans have a minor collection of different shirts, both past and present.

Everything in football is geared towards consumption. This whole consumerism focus feeds into the idea of ‘true fans’ and only being able to uphold this image if you can commit financially. That also means that it’s easy to buy yourself into perceived ‘fandom’ if all it requires is that you look like a fan from the outside. Which, in turn, takes away the whole beauty of fandom.

Instead, I became a minimalist.

It’s important to note that minimalism is not only a less materialistic lifestyle but a way of life that seeps into everything you do. Consumption does not only concern material things but also energy and focus, and it’s very important to be intentional with where your focus and energy goes.

I’ve not only started to consume way less in terms of material football things, like acquiring fewer shirts and read fewer football books, but I’ve also become more intentional with how much energy I put into football. Before I would spend a whole weekend watching game after game, Premier League, Bundesliga, throw in the occasional La Liga game too. I would keep myself updated on Twitter at the same time, and write to friends that were fans of the teams playing and we would exchange reactions of the game. Sometimes I would make a night of it, go out (with my Tottenham shirt on, of course) to the pub with a friend and interact with other fans. All of this, for an introvert like me, takes a lot of energy, but I think it would be draining for anyone in the long run.

Now, what I do is simply choose. I choose which games to invest myself in, I choose to limit my time on social media, I choose not to vent with my friends about every single game and the pub nights are few and far between. I forgive myself for not being a devoted “enough” football fan that watches all games, keeps track of the whole transfer market and can recite what tactics the coach should use for XYZ. When I was in Paris and Lyon for the Women’s World Cup, for example, there were many temptations. Everyone knows how many beautiful football shirts were released ahead of this World Cup, and I allowed myself to get one – of course, I got the France shirt with the hexagon dots (drool!) but made sure to get it online, so as not to get stuck in the Nike shop and come back out with a full bag.

France 2019 Away shirt
Outside of the France – USA game with the famous France shirt on

I also frequented the Copa90 Clubhouse quite a bit and they had a lot of beautiful merch that I wanted to get, as well as things for free like totes and stickers. Again, I restrained myself (well, I got a tote and a few stickers, okay!). This is just my personal situation: if you love Copa90, by all means, go crazy and get it all, but I knew that no matter how cool these t-shirts, shirts and caps looked, I wouldn’t use them enough for me to justify keeping them in my wardrobe. No matter if things are for free or you have to pay for them, it can be helpful to have a mental process, a checklist to go through. Retail therapy is very real and it can be good to know if you’re buying something because it will add value to your life, or because it looks cute and you’re in a funk. It’s also good to remind yourself that you are not valued as more or less of a fan because of what you have or don’t have.

Football is so much more than just a sport, for many of us it’s an integral part of our identity, and we all choose to practice and display our fandom in different ways. Some fans are like collectors, and what they have to show for their fandom is of the highest importance, and I get that. But the culture around consumption in football, the brands constantly pushing out more things for us to buy at higher and higher prices and the clubs that charge more and more for a game of football – it’s unsustainable and pushes a lot of people, that can’t afford to keep up this mad cycle, away from the game that ultimately originated amongst the working class. When you can’t afford to go to the games and can barely afford to watch them, then what are we left with?

I think that overcrowding our wardrobes, bedrooms, apartments, lives, putting ourselves in debt for a season ticket and feeding this consumption frenzy that is so ingrained in society, is a big contributor to why we never feel satisfied. I mean, look at all the money that Arsenal spends and they’re still playing Europa League on a regular basis.

From Hysterical Fernando Torres Girl To Occasional Football Freakout Woman

This is a story of my transition into womanhood which, as we know in part thanks to Britney Spears and our own experiences, can be quite confusing, and it’s easy to feel ‘caught in the middle’.

I grew up as a football fan. My formative years, my teenage years, were strongly influenced by the identity of being a football fan, and it has brought me so much, but there’s also so much that I know now, that I wish I knew back then. For example, the number of times I compromised myself because I didn’t know better, because I wanted to fit in and be ‘one of the guys’, and I thought that being told that ‘you’re not like other girls’ was a good thing (ugh). Thankfully now I know better, through experience and meeting wise people I’ve realised that I want to be JUST like other girls because we are fantastic, and the term was coined in an attempt to alienate women from each other, as we’re too powerful together. I’ve learned that I’m allowed to take up space, I’m allowed to let my female self flourish also in an inherently male space, without having to conform to masculine ways. I don’t need to adopt an exterior that makes me pass as a “valid” football fan but instead, I can be the flawed, bad football fan that I am.

Everything that I knew about what it means being a girl, becoming a woman, I learned through the lens of football fandom

But all of these lessons came with a price. Everything that I knew about what it means being a girl, becoming a woman, I learned through the lens of football fandom, and occupying these male spaces on a daily basis … it was exhausting. Beautiful, but exhausting. There were so many times I felt alone, ruthlessly alone. As I’m sure most women can sign on, being a female football fan is difficult, as we encounter so many issues men simply don’t understand – I wrote about some of them here.

Emma with Torres shirt on
So proud over my first shirt

There was one man that introduced me to the world of fandom and came to define those years. This man is Fernando Torres. As I was entering my teenage years, I had Torres there accompanying me. From buying my first football top (his Spain shirt, on a trip to Greece) and plastering my room with posters of his face, the topic of Torres also acted as a great bonding topic for two shy and alone football fangirls, equipping me with a life-long friend. I had my first kiss at a football tournament I was playing abroad. I had Torres’ name on my graduation hat. Being a football fan gave me an identity, something that I, like most young people, was desperate for.

But he was actually not the one that introduced me to methodically follow football on an international club level, that was the making of Rafael Van der Vaart and that, my dear friends, is why I’m not a Liverpool or a Chelsea fan, but ended up supporting a fantastic club called Tottenham Hotspur (I definitely feel like it was meant to be).

Tottenham cap on the ready!
Reppin’ Tottenham in Madrid

You could say that Van der Vaart took over from Torres, who in many ways was a girl’s mega-crush whereas VDV brought me a level deeper. He wooed me with his fantastic technique, passion and endless grit at the World Cup 2010 and afterwards left me wanting more, so I started following his progress in his new team, and I fell hopelessly in love with Tottenham, their style of play (Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Van der Vaart all together, I mean …) and the history of the club, and as VDV left the club, going back to his old club Hamburg SV, I followed. I started watching Bundesliga and HSV on a more regular basis, admiring the special style of play in the German top league. This ultimately led to me moving to Germany a month after finishing high school, fully immersing myself in German football and culture. Two and a half years later, as it was time for me to break toxic routes, an opportunity opened up for me in Madrid and coincidentally it was (allegedly) Torres’ last season in Atletico Madrid.

This led to me packing my bags and heading to Spain without a second thought, as it was an amazing opportunity to get to see him play on home soil, at the club that he loves the most. By now I was, although still finding myself, more comfortable in who I was, and my extreme, hysterical fangirl-self only broke out occasionally, like the time that I got to actually be face to face with him, only centimetres separating us, and we actually exchanged words! And he signed my shirt! It was the ultimate fangirl moment.

Fernando Torres signed shirt
Don’t know if you can tell that I was happy here?

In one sense my Torres-fandom came full circle the moment our eyes met. By this time I had been in a few mixed zones and already had my ‘omg-footballers-are-actually-normal-deadly-people’ moment, but it was something different locking eyes with my first ever footballing hero. It solidified a moment in time in which, looking back, something shifted in me, and I knew it was time to do something about my dreams. It was like a chain reaction; as one dream came true (me meeting Torres), my other dreams wanted to be fulfilled as well and as a result of that, things started to move slowly but surely.

When Lucas Moura scored that vital winner in the 96th minute I literally peed myself I was screaming so hard

I’m no longer hysterical over Torres (only when he posts nice things on Instagram), and I don’t sit and sob in the sofa after Tottenham has lost a Premier League game (yes, there’s actual footage of this) but there are undoubtedly moments when those strong feelings still overwhelm me and have to come out somehow. The second leg of the semifinal between Ajax – Tottenham was certainly one of those times. When Lucas Moura scored that vital winner in the 96th minute I literally peed myself I was screaming so hard, and the redness in my face was at a dangerously high level. But none of that mattered because my team were going through to the Champions League final for the first time! In Madrid, on June 1st another circle will close, as I’ve been blessed to see my team work so hard throughout the season and fulfil every Spurs fan’s dream, and I’ll be watching, ready to freak out no matter how it goes and continue to chase those dreams.

Five Lessons Goalkeeping Taught Me As a Female Football Fan

The first time I had to go in goals as an adult was at a futsal tournament with my university team and I was too hungover to run, so after 20 minutes I told my coach that I needed to go in goals or I would not make it. Which ended up being quite the successful initiative, and as my new team were looking for a goalkeeper I volunteered. One year into this journey I am loving my new position and enjoying myself thoroughly.

Along the way, I have evolved so much, obviously as a player, going from playing as a left wing for the better part of a decade to going in between the sticks, but also as a person and a female football fan. I was opened up to a whole new perspective, being positioned at the end of the pitch, and it forced me to view the game and my role in it in a totally different way. That, in turn, opened up to new views on my life, my fandom and my role in it, as well as how I want to practice it going forward.

The lessons that I’ve taken from goalkeeping are applicable in the game as well as in life:

1. Don’t Be Afraid

Fear limits you! This is the first rule, which is very applicable to the goalkeeper life (I mean, you are voluntarily stepping in as the last person between the striker and the goal) but it’s also a fundamental realisation that has huge impact on your life. I used to be so afraid; afraid of doing anything wrong, being wrong, fucking up – but what you have to realise is this: as a goalkeeper you are going to make mistakes and let in goals. Fact is, you’ll probably let in more goals than you keep out, and you have to be okay with that, it’s just part of it and you’ll learn from every mistake in order to be able to keep more goals out.

Same goes for life, where many people stay in their comfort zones and rarely makes mistakes. It’s comfortable but that’s not where the magic happens. What if I’d been too afraid to devote myself to Tottenham, my football team, because I was put off by the scrutiny present in the football community?

2. Be Demanding

As the person furthest back on the pitch, you have a unique view that no one else as, and you have to use that to help your team and guide your defence, who do not have the same advantage as you. That means that sometimes you will have to be very demanding and steer them to where you need them to be, which in turn means that you have to trust yourself to have the view and the skills necessary for it.

Also in life, you have to take command of your own ship and demand more of yourself, trusting yourself to know what is best for you. That includes knowing that you belong in a space (for example, a pub or a football stadium) even when the people around you make you feel otherwise.

3. Ask For It

This one is vital. In order to get anything you want – that promotion at work, the cute person you’ve been eyeing for a while, or the ball in the game, you’re gonna have to ask for it. In order to receive the ball in a position where you know that you can do something with it, where you set the tone, you’re going to have to ask your teammates to pass it to you. That way you take charge of the game, and the same rules apply to anything that you want – no one is just going to hand it to you. It’s yours for the taking!

4. Take Up Space

If you take up more physical space in the goal, the goal shrinks and significantly minimises the target for the striker trying to score on you. It makes a lot of sense when you look at it from the striker’s point of view, but when you’re in that goal it can feel counterintuitive to charge out towards a player that is running towards you full speed with the ball, but that’s what you have to do. Same in life, it can really scary, but it’s difficult to give opportunities to people that you do not know are there because they’re not taking up any space.

Note, it’s not just about taking up the space – you have to believe that you’re allowed to actually take up the space, and that you’re not just there because of luck or because someone wanted to be kind to you. The notion of being allowed to take up space is a belief that is hard for women, in my experience. I certainly struggle with it a lot. As women, we’re taught, from a young age, that ‘girls sit down and obey’ whereas the boys are rowdy and taking up space. Well, it’s time to change that and as adults we can lead by example.#GetBig as Karen Bardsley always says.

5. Use Your Voice

Your defence won’t know what it is that you want or need from them if you do not tell them. It’s worth repeating: as the goalkeeper you have the most special view on the pitch. There will be times when you’ll come from behind and your defenders won’t see you and you’re all just so focused on clearing the ball that, without the communication, it’ll most likely turn into a big mess.

It is equally as important to use your voice in life because you have a unique take on life just like everyone else, and you have to learn to speak up, for others but most of all for yourself. Especially in my fandom this has been a useful tool to gain, as I’ve come to understand that few people are willing to speak up for female football fans, in general in the media, but also when you’re in the pub/at the stadium alone. And nowadays there are so many amazing female football collectives and fans emerging, and recommending people to follow them is a great use of the voice, for example.

Also, remember to be kind, to yourself and to others, it goes a long way. And don’t compare your chapter three to someone else’s chapter 20.

13 Things Female Football Fans Don’t Have To Do

This list aims to highlight the (often invisible) pressures that female football fans have on them, especially when out in male-dominated football contexts in public. I mean, I have lived in Sweden, Germany, Spain and the UK, all football-crazy countries, and in every single place I’ve been, I can attest to having had to go through all of the following when at the stadium or in a pub watching.

As a female football fan, I don’t have to …

1. Look a certain way

Under absolutely no circumstances do I have to fit into your narrow expectations of what a female football fan should look like – you only need to google “female football fans” to get the idea. My fandom is not there for you to have something to rest the eyes on. However, it is also totally fine if I want to wear my football shirt tight and wear makeup. I’m still not there to appeal to your male gaze.

2. Drink beer

Or any alcohol really. Or let me just walk off with my Martini in peace. The point is – just because beer is the (not so) original go-to choice for literally every single man seated in front of a football game, doesn’t mean that I have to have that. And no, you really don’t need to point it out.

IMG_1579

When I had just moved to Germany and supported my host-country as they won the (men’s) World Cup

 

3. Wear a football top

I might’ve come straight from work and not brought the shirt, or my favourite shirt might be in the wash. Or, frankly, I might not own one, maybe I can’t afford it. Regardless, having a football shirt is not a badge of honour that shows you that I “get it”, neither is it something that I wear for the sole purpose of showing you that I get it.

4. Know everything about the team

Just because I have declared myself a fan of a team, it doesn’t mean that I am caught up in the ins and outs of the club. Heck, I might’ve even missed that they’re playing today. Life happens and it’s not always easy to balance.

5. Accept you (man) popping up and starting to quiz me about the team

One more time for the people in the back: just because I have declared myself a fan of a team, it does not mean that I’m required to know everything there is to know about it. And it is absolutely not your place to feel free to start quizzing me about various historical moments of the club, having me prove to you that I know my stuff as if being a fan of the club required certain entry-level knowledge – only female fans mind.

6. Prove to you that I actually understand tactics (not to mention the offside rule …)

Furthermore, my knowledge of tactics (or lack thereof) is none of your business.

7. Be able to recount players from all the top leagues

It can be quite intimidating when the names start to hail down around you and you’re expected to keep up, only to fail miserably or feel like you’re constantly on your toes.

8. Explain why I love my team

The story is getting old by now, how I found my team and fell in love and the reasons behind it. If anything it feels like people (who am I kidding: men) need further justification from me on how on earth I managed to find a team that I like, and are you sure that it’s not because of that hot player?

9. Tell the story about how I got into football

Yes, I’m a woman who loves football. No, it was not my dad who got me into it. There are several entryways into the football world, I’m just saying that it doesn’t have to be a man that was the catalyst.

10. Talk to you at all really …

… even though I like football and have chosen to watch it in a pub or at the stadium. I know that I’ve chosen to watch this game out in public, however, that is not so that you can feel free to strike up a conversation with me, questioning my legitimacy as a football fan. Respect my boundaries.

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Getting to know the area in Glasgow

 

11. Sit quiet and accept the ref’s decision

Women are conditioned to sit back and be quiet and well-behaved, but those days are over and it’s time to claim that space, the rowdy, upset and passionate space that football fans find themselves in all too often.

12. Educate you about women’s football

Heck, why do I have to know anything about women’s football just because I’m a woman? Now, personally, I happen to like women’s football and I know many women that do, and to a certain extent I can understand where one would draw some logical parallels like women supporting women and that, but we’re all grown up in a society that is not supportive of women’s football and that has taught us that it’s far inferior to men’s football, this is not just a view of men. And it’s something that we just have to work on changing (with so many positive changes in the air right now!!!), but it drives me nuts sometimes when a woman is assumed to be an expert on women’s football based on the sole fact that she’s a woman interested in football.

13. Accommodate your uncomfortableness

Now, maybe you haven’t been around too many female football fans, which is fine. However, it’s not on me to make you feel better after an awkward encounter that ended in you making sexist remarks/assumptions and interrupting my football experience.

Can you relate to any of these points, and how did that make you feel? Share in the comment section below!

Wednesdays Are For World Cup Countdowns

France World Cup Football Winners

I want to introduce a new segment on the blog. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is very excited about the upcoming World Cup in France, but as the Bad Football Fan that I am, I will readily admit that there are many of these national teams that I don’t know too much about. It’s so easy around these kind of events to become focused on one or a few countries, typically the country you have your own ties to, and by doing so you risk missing out on so many wonderful stories. But it is also just way more interesting to follow a tournament if you are able to put the playing teams in a context, knowing more about what they’ve done in the past and what kind of realistic goals they have. This sounds like prep for an awkward first date when you’ve run out of things to talk about, but we’re going to sweat through a whole month of some really great action between all of these teams, so might as well get prepared.

As a fellow Bad Football Fan, I know how hard it can be to do the research for every team all on your own, and to be frank it’s easy to get lost without a structure or a purpose. That’s why I’m starting WWC Wednesdays – Women’s World Cup Wednesdays, each week going covering a new national team that will be present at the World Cup in France in June. I will go through the teams in the order of the groups, starting with Group A and working my way through all the groups and all the teams, arriving at the last team just as the World Cup is about to kick off. The series will come out every Wednesday as a countdown to the tournament, reminding us that it’s not too far off. It will serve as a review of the team – some history, looking at some of their prominent players as well as what we can expect of them (even though we’re always open for surprises). The first piece, on the French team, will come out on the first Wednesday of the year, 2 of January, and we’ll go from there.

WWC Wednesdays

I’m so excited, and I hope that you are as well! Who do you cheer for, and who do you think will win the tournament?

Meet The Founder Of Ladies Recreational Football

This post was originally meant to come up on Monday, but as anyone who follows me on Instagram might have noticed, I broke my thumb during football practice a week ago and had to have surgery on Tuesday. This has greatly decreased my ability to write and, to be honest, the first few days I’ve just been taking it easy and enjoyed being taken care of. But now I’m here! Arm in a cast but otherwise good.

This time I’ve been chatting with Kirsten Sinclair. She is the founder of Ladies Recreational Football, a club that gets together on Tuesday evenings (19:00-20:00) at Glasgow Green, where they play football and enjoy the company. They also organise other events, for example they’ll be hosting a 5 a side football tournament on June 9 with an event at the Women’s Library afterwards. For more information, check out their Facebook page! So make sure to save the date for a Saturday full of football and fun.

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– How did the Ladies Recreational Football start?

Kirsten: Probably about 2009, I was in Edinburgh with a group of friends. We were just having a kick about in the park, it was coming up to winter and they said ‘oh, we’re just gonna have to wait now until spring’ and I said ‘well, that’s a shame. Why don’t we try and get like a sports centre’ but the trouble with that is, you wouldn’t get the same numbers every week. So, at the time, I was in touch with LGBT health and they had some funding, so I asked them if it was possible to set up a women’s recreational football group in Edinburgh, to begin with. So they gave us some funding, just to pay for a pitch for a couple of months, and then I applied towards for all. We managed to get a grant that kept it going. So that’s the Amazing Gracies in Edinburgh. I was with them for about three years and then I got the chance to go and work in Australia, so I left the Gracies.

But when I came back, I thought ‘I wonder if there’s something in Glasgow’ and I couldn’t find anything apart from United Glasgow and I thought that, I know they’ve got the drop in, it still seemed to be geared towards putting people towards a league side, and I thought ‘there’s maybe still a gap for people that just are a bit less confident’ so that was really the reason for setting up this recreational football. So in July [last year] I did a survey and people said yes, I must’ve had about 40 people saying that they would be up for it, and I just asked them where they would like to play. And that was it! So I booked it, promoted it like mad, and LEAP Sports were brilliant with the promotion as well as the Women’s library and the libraries, I just went around and did leaflets and a Facebook campaign. On the first night, we were really lucky because 14 folks came along, and it’s been going since! So we just gradually tried to, try the Thursday night, try Sundays, try to get friendlies, keep in touch with United Glasgow for any friendlies with them and tournaments. It has just been great, it’s a lovely group of women and it’s just a laugh, that’s the main thing about it. It takes the emphasis away from having any kind of competitive ability, it’s just about coming out and having a bit of fun. Then if you want you can come for a coffee or a pint after it.

– And you have walking football as well?

K: That’s right. Walking football I do in Edinburgh at the moment and I’ve been trying to get the numbers for it in Glasgow but without success. I just keep offering it and maybe more women will come. I’m doing a tournament on the 9th of June at Glasgow Green, with start 12pm, and again it’s just to try and get people along that might be thinking about walking football or ordinary football, and trying to give them a taste of them both, so maybe we can get a few more folks up for it.

It has just been great, it’s a lovely group of women and it’s just a laugh, that’s the main thing about it

Picture-What drives you? What made you take that initiative to start the club?

K: That’s a really good question … because I used to love football when I was wee, and I was lucky having a brother, because I used to play with my brother. And we didn’t really have the opportunities for girls and women playing football at school and hardly any clubs. If you did join a club you had to make a commitment, and you had to be a certain level – and I just love playing! And I thought – remember that kick about in the park, it was the first time I’d had a kick about for years, and I just thought that there must be more that would enjoy that. I just loved it, and when the Grace’s took off and there was the chance to try it here in Glasgow I just thought ‘I’ll see’ and it’s just great playing it again. So I think it’s a bit of both it’s just loving playing football, and seeing folk coming out that are not very confident, and they’ve all got a talent. That’s the main thing about it.

– How has the response been?

K: There’s been a couple of comments about how it’s really really good, mental health-wise because, especially for people that might’ve had a rotten day at work, because they find it all absorbing, they can only concentrate for that hour on football and it’s enough to give them a break, from maybe a bad day at work. But it’s also, people have said, it’s been lovely to come out and have a game, have something in common with people straight away, and then gradually get to know them over the weeks, playing in a team. That’s been the good thing of the friendlies and the tournaments, just making friends and being on the social side.

– What kind of people is it that shows up to the practice?

K: All kinds! All ages, we’ve had Liz, that played tonight, her daughters came along, they were about 18 at the time. We’ve had another woman whose mum played! She’s about 65 years old and she had a brilliant game I saw. All ages, we see, there’s a bunch of regulars but it’s good because you get new faces too and it’s lovely to see new folks coming along. United Glasgow have been great with the drop in because I think some folks have been coming from there when they can. It’s just great if we can give people the opportunity to come and play football, that’s really good.

Picture

– What’s the atmosphere like?

K: I would say it’s really fun, because Sirri from LEAP Sports came to do an interview too and just to take some film footage, and while she was doing it, she said ‘you are the only pitch where people are just laughing!’. She could hear the guys around the boot and they were all quite serious, but she said it’s really nice just seeing people just killing themselves laughing, so it’s good.

– Do you feel that it fills a need for the people showing up?

K: Yeah, I think it’s important for me to have an inclusive, friendly environment. For somebody brave enough to come along for the first time, many people would take it for granted, that they would just do that, they would show up and they would go. For other people I think it’s quite a tough thing to do, so it was really important from the word go just to make them feel welcome and hopefully that’s what the club does. If you identify as a woman, you’re more than welcome to come along whenever you can.

– What does football give you?

(silence)

K: I think I’d have to say a big smile, because every time I come along and I may be tired or fed up,  I always come away smiling, feeling a bit better than when I started. That’s the social side, definitely.