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.

WC Countdown: Group D – Argentina

The next team out in group D is no other than Argentina.

It is a triumphant return to the international scene for the Argentinians, who last participated in the 2007 World Cup in China, 12 years ago, and which they’ve only participated in twice –  never managing to get out of the group stage. It has been a tough road to get to France for this team, and not solemnly from a qualification-route point of view. Only last month did the country finally decide to make the women’s league professional (by no means on the same level as the men’s, but still) after a lot of fighting, from the national team in general who went on a strike for equality  last year and were seen posing cupping their ears (‘is anyone listening?’), a photo which went viral at the Copa América and the issue finally got some recognition. Furthermore, players like Macarena Sánchez have played a huge role and they’ve used social media to draw attention to the fact that female football players in Argentina get very little to no help from their clubs or their national team whatsoever, whether that regards training clothes, food or treatment for injured players.

On their way to qualification, they played in the Copa América Femenina and they beat Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia, but lost to Brazil twice and then to Chile, causing them to end up in third place. This, in turn, caused them to face a play-off in the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL and they had to play Panama over two legs, winning 4-0 and drawing 1-1, and qualifying them for the World Cup.

Estefania Banini is captain of the team and the midfielder is dangerous in front of the goal as well as from outside the area. The 28-year-old, who is an important cog in the Argentinian set-up, scored three goals in seven games at the Copa América. Another important cog is the forward Soledad Jaimes, who scored five goals in the seven Copa América games, and who has just signed for one of the biggest football clubs in women’s football. Florencia Bonsegundo and Mariana Larroquette are two other attacking options with a record of scoring goals. Another, more unbacked goalscorer is Eliana Stabile, who is a defender but scored two vital goals in the playoffs.

Belén Potassa two-time goalscorer
Belén Potassa scored twice for Argentina against CSN Lady Coyotes Soccer. Picture source.

The coach of the team is Carlos Borrello, who first took over the team back in 2003 and managed them until 2012, when he was replaced by Luis Nicosia, after having led the team to their first two World Cups as well as their only title, the 2006 Copa América win. But in 2017 he returned and got to guide his team to yet another World Cup qualification. The coach has tried out a few different formations, but one that seems pretty constant is the 4-2-3-1.

Argentina participated in the Cup of Nations back in March, that took place in Australia, but the team lost all three games against New Zealand, South Korea and Australia with big goal margins and failing to score a single goal.

“Coming here is our preparation (for World Cup) and our players are trying to experience top-level matches playing against good teams,” Borrello said.

“We have to look beyond the final result because we are trying to get experience for our players.

“We are far away from the best teams, we know that but it’s a long way and we know that, it’s just the beginning.”

That’s a roundup on the South American team, that has been placed in a very tough group – going up against Scotland, England and Japan. It remains to be seen whether this team can surprise everybody and turn this group on its head. Let us know what you think in the comments below!

WC Countdown: Group D – Scotland

The next team in group D are the arch-rivals of EnglandScotland! They share the same wee island, but that’s about it. Since the dawn of time, England and Scotland have fought it out, on and off the football pitch, and as faith would have it they landed in the same group at the World Cup, which will make for a very exciting first game in group D.

The Scottish women’s national team and head coach Shelley Kerr has a very different squad at hand to the injury-plagued one that featured at the Euros 2017, where Scotland made an early exit after losing 0-6 to England and 1-2 to Portugal, and a 1-0 win against Spain could not save them. Their road to the World Cup in France worked out better than the Euros, but the Scots left it to the last game to secure qualification and did not make it easy for themselves. They won seven out of their eight games, but four out of those seven involved them fighting their way back from a losing position, and only on the last matchday it was confirmed that they finished above Switzerland in the group and qualified. Scotland then went to Portugal to play in the Algarve Cup in March, where they lost 0-1 to Canada, but won against Iceland 4-1 and against Denmark 1-0, in their preparations for the World Cup.

Looking at this Scottish team, there is undeniable talent in the squad. Just take young Erin Cuthbert, the 20-year-old who can’t stop scoring, for club and country. In her eighth games for Scotland in the qualification, she scored four goals, and she shares the top-scorer spot in the team with Jane Ross. Kim Little is another big name, and the creative midfielder has long been lauded s one of the best, but this will be the first time she gets to take her Scotland to a major tournament, as she was out injured for the Euros. In each of the last three qualifiers, she contributed with a vital goal, helping her team get a step closer to France. Lee Alexander is another emerging star between the goalposts, and the goalkeeper has managed to establish herself as the number one choice of coach Kerr.

Scotland women national team
Scotland WNT. Photo: Anders Henrikson

Something that has further helped develop the talent in the team, and allow them to focus on the football, is the financial help from the Scottish government, who went in with £80,00 of funding, which has enabled the squad to be full-time from January leading all the way up to the tournament in June.

“This announcement gives our home-based players an opportunity to train more, but also to rest more,” Kerr said to BBC Scotland.

“Some of them have to juggle full-time or part-time employment, or full-time education, as well as training with their clubs four or five times a week, on top of a strength and conditioning program as well.

“It is a big ask for those players who are not in a professional environment, and we need to make sure we support them as best we can. It is a huge weight off my shoulders and I know it is the same for the players.”

Midfielder Joanne Love, 32, who plays for Glasgow City is one of Scotland’s part-time players, who faces the struggle of balancing her day job with the demands of football.

“Particularly at my age, it’s getting a bit harder,” she said. “Some days I’m out the house for 12 hours between training in the morning, going to work then training at night.

“Elite athletes will tell you that you can’t go at 100mph all the time. Hopefully, I’ll find that balance and be top of my game come the World Cup.”

Shifting the focus over to Michelle “Shelley” Kerr. The former defender, who herself represented Scotland as a player, has previously managed teams such as Hibs and Arsenal on the women’s side, before becoming the first female manager in the UK to manage a men’s side when she took over Stirling University. The team constantly finished in the top five and she led them to the British Universities Championship final in 2014-15. In April 2017 she was appointed manager of the Scottish national team and have since led them to a historic first World Cup final.

Kerr is one for switching up the formations, and she’s had success with different ones. Her go-to choice seems to be the 4-2-3-1 but she is not afraid to switch it up and has also tried the 4-5-1 and 4-4-2 amongst others.

Scotland has a few games coming up, such as their game against Chile on the 5th of April 18:00 (UK time), they’re then going up against Brazil on the 8th of April, before welcoming Jamaica to Glasgow and Hampden Park on the 28th of May. The games will all be available on BBC Alba.

That concludes a little bit of insight on the Scottish squad. A lot of the buzz around this team will of course circulate around the England game, but they will also have to take on Argentina and Japan, two other big footballing nations. Do you think that the Scots can do it? Let us know in the comment section!

WC Countdown: Group C – Jamaica

Last but not least in group C, we’ve got another newcomer to the World Cup – Jamaica.

It has been quite a dramatic route to France for the ‘Reggae Girlz’, who were disbanded back in 2008 after failing to get out of the group stage of the qualification for the Olympics, a group which also featured both Mexico and the USA. A lack of funding made the Jamaica Football Federation halt the senior women’s football program in the country in 2010, and the team lost their FIFA ranking because of three years inactivity. Thanks to Cedella Marley, daughter of Bob Marley, becoming the ambassador of the team in 2014, the program could be revived and she has helped the team a lot by raising awareness, encouraged the development of the players and the team as well as financially aiding them. This is the first time that Jamaica has managed to qualify to the World Cup, and they did so in quite the fashion. They sailed through the group stages, losing to Canada but grabbing a win against Costa Rica and Cuba, which secured them second in the group. That meant a semi-final game against the USA, which they lost, but they took it all out on Panama, and after an impressive game they secured the WC-spot after a penalty shootout.

Jamaica Women's National Team
The Jamaican team celebrates, sketch by The Matchday Lookbook.

Jody Brown is a name to remember in this team. The 16-year-old was voted best young player of the tournament in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, and in the vital game against Panama, she scored one of the goals. She has an eye for the game and even though she’s still so young, she has already heavily influenced the team with her skills and she can bring a lot to the table for Jamaica in France.  Another player to be on the lookout for is the 19-year-old goalkeeper Sydney Schneider, who pulled out some amazing saves in the tournament to keep Jamaica on track to the World Cup. Khadija Shaw has been a force of nature in the Jamaican game for a long time, and when she was only 14 years old, she represented Jamaica’s U-15, U-17 and U20 football teams. In the WC qualification tournament, she scored an incredible 11 goals in nine games. Other names to keep an eye out for is Dominique Bond-Flasza, Trudi Carter and Sashana Campbell. The squad is very young and the average age is just under 23 years.

A lot of credit shall go to the head coach, Hue Menzies, as well as his assistant Lorne Donaldson, as the pair have managed to get the team to climb 66 places in the FIFA international rankings in only 12 months, starting out on 119th place at the end of 2017, only to now sit in 53rd place. When the team was playing the CONCACAF Women’s Championship in October 2018, both coaches were employed on a voluntary basis by the JFF and only their expenses were covered.

“We want to help give back to the country because of what the country has done for us in football, so we volunteer our time,” Menzies said to The Jamaica Gleaner in August last year.

The team usually plays in a 4-2-3-1 formation and have been very successful with this style of play this far.

Jamaica will travel to Scotland shortly before they make their way down the continent to France, and they will play the Scottish national team at 19:35 BST on 28 May at Hampden Park.

That’s an initial look at the Jamaican team, one of the four newcomers to the World Cup. In a group that contains veterans like Australia, Italy and Brazil, can they make any sort of impact? Discuss in the comments below!

WC Countdown: Group C – Australia

We’re already onto group C in this World Cup countdown, and it is time for Australia!

The Matildas (whose nickname comes from an old Australian folk song) has been on the international scene for quite some time, having participated in all but one of the previous World Cups (they missed out on the inagural edition in China 1991), and they have steadily improved during the years. However, they’ve never been able to make it past the quarter-finals (which is still the furthest that any male or female Australian team has reached), a curse that they are now looking to break. They qualified after they defeated Thailand in the semifinals of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup (Australia moved from the Oceania Football Confederation to the Asian Football Federation in 2006 because they were fed up with Fifa not allowing Oceania an automatic qualifying spot at the time, and so they (at least the men’s side) perceived it to be easier to qualify via the Asian route), but lost 0-1 to Japan in the final. They drew 0-0 against South Korea, won 8-0 against Vietnam and drew 1-1 with Japan in the group games, before going up against Thailand in the semi-finals.

Sam Kerr is one of the biggest names in the Australian squad. The 25 year old, who was shortlisted for The Best FIFA Women’s Player in 2018, finished off the previous NWSL (the American league) and W-league (the Australian league) as top scorer, and she is a force to be reckoned with, having set a new record after scoring in seven consecutive Matildas games in 2017/18. She was also named captain by new head coach Ante Milicic, a role that she was very humbled to receive.

“It’s a massive honor,” Kerr said. “Milicic speaks in such a passionate way, it’s quite uplifting … it had me quite emotional when he asked me.”

Sam Kerr
Sam Kerr. Picture source: thewomensgame on Wikimedia

Kerr will be taking over the role from former co-captains Lisa De Vanna and Clare Polkinghorne. De Vanna has represented the Matildas since 2004 and captained the team at their last World Cup appereance in 2015. The 34 year-old is another attacking option with a lot of pace and great dribbling skills. Alanna Kennedy is only 24 years old, but has already represented Australia for years, and is nowadays a cornerstone in their defense. At the 2018 Asian Cup she scored two goals, one of them being the vital stoppage time equalizer against Thailand in the semi-final, that saw the game go to penalties, where Australia won. Chloe Logarzo and Emily van Egmond are two other strong players who are contributing on the midfield.

There has been a lot of talk lately about the Matildas on the coaching front, after Alen Stajcic was fired as head coach of the team in January, only five months before the World Cup. Although the exact reasons behind firing Stajcic remain unclear (the FFA claim that thiss is because of confidentiality) it is being said that there was a toxic team culture in the squad, and that the situation was unsustainable. The decision has come with a lot of controversy, and many players have spoken out against the sacking of Stajcic.

In his place, Ante Milicic has been named the interim coach to take over the team (with interim meaning that he is only temporarily in charge until a new head coach is appointed). Milicic is a former Australia international player and was a Socceroos (nickname for the men’s team) assistant under Ange Postecoglou, however he has never coached a women’s team. Former Australia captain Melissa Barbieri spoke out about the newly appointed coach, saying “I think it is fantastic that Ante (Milicic) has put his hand up to coach the Matildas.”

“He goes into this job unaware of how much he will fall in love with women’s football.”

It is as of yet unclear what kind of formation that Milicic will want to play, but at the 2018 Asian Cup the team tended to play some different formations, including a 3-4-2-1.

Milicic will get a chance to feel out his potential tactics and formations rather quickly, as the Australian side are hosting the Cup of Nations, with their first kick off against New Zealand on February 28th, a game which they won 2-0. They will also play South Korea on the 3rd of March and Argentina on the 6th of March. Then they have a friendly against USA scheduled on the 5th of April.

That is a little bit on the first team in group C! Australia are quite the heavy favourites to go pretty far in this tournament – do yous agree? Fire up the comment section! Also, give us your take on the appointment of yet another male coach who has never set foot in the women’s game before? Opinions may differ and I try to let my own feelings stay out of these World Cup Countdown pieces as much as possible, but my feelings do not match those of Barbieri regarding yet another male coach getting the go-ahead to coach a women’s team, never having coached a women’s team before in his life (he should not have to ‘fall in love with women’s football’ AFTER already having been appointed). I will write an opinion piece on the problematic issue that is unfortunately all too recurring.

WC Countdown: Group B – Germany

We now move into group B ahead of the Women’s World Cup, having already had a closer look on FranceSouth KoreaNorway and Nigeria in group A.

Germany is first up in group B, and they are only one of the most successful women’s football teams of all time. The Germans have previously won the World Cup twice (and is the only team to date to win the titles consecutively), they’ve won eight European Championships (out of 12) – six of these consecutively between 1995 and 2013, as well as Olympic gold in 2016. During these years, the side has contained some of the most successful female footballers throughout history, like Silvia Neid (an institution in German football), Célia Šašić, goal machine Birgit Prinz, and goalkeeper Nadine Angerer, who have both won the prestigious award FIFA World Player of the year (equivalent of Ballon d’Or), Prinz won it three times and Angerer became the first goalkeeper – male or female – to win it.

Nonetheless, Germany had to show a bit of fighting spirit to get on the road to the World Cup in France 2019. They lost their first ever World Cup qualifier at home, with Iceland beating the Germans 3-2, at one point of the game being 3-1 up. This meant that they were behind Iceland in the group and direct qualification to the tournament looked much trickier. But they then went on to not concede in their following five qualification games, and with results going their way as well, it was enough to grab that sweet top spot and qualify for the World Cup.

The team is full of outstanding players who are doing well for their respective clubs as well as in the national team, with captain Dzsenifer Marozsán leading the way. The talented playmaker and goalscorer has been struggling with injuries and illness for the past year but is still considered a pivotal asset to the team, with a great first touch and accurate crossing. Lea Schüller is only 21 years old but has already proven that she’s a force to be reckoned with, for example scoring all four goals in Germany’s win over the Czech Republic in the qualification round. Alexandra Popp, Linda Dallman, Sara Däbritz, Sara Doorsoun-Khajeh, Svenja Huth, Giulia Gwinn and Lena Gößling are other names worthy of keeping in mind. Almuth Schult got to step up as the starting goalkeeper at the 2016 Summer Olympics, in which Germany won gold and Schult got to play every minute, and it looks likely that she will keep being the first choice for the time being.

DFB Frauen
DFB Frauen at the 2016 Olympics. Picture source: Wikipedia

As is evident, this is quite a talented team with great depth in the squad. Throughout the qualification phase the team was led by interim coach Horst Hrubesch, but starting this year it is Martina Voss-Tecklenburg who will take over the reins. The German previously coached the Switzerland women’s national team, which she led to first-time appearances at both the Women’s World Cup and the Women’s European Championship. It is yet unclear what kind of style Voss-Tecklenburg will attempt to play, but during the qualification phase, interim coach Hrubesch was inclined to line the team up in a tradition 4-4-2 or the occasional 3-5-2 with modifications. During Voss-Tecklenburg’s time as the Switzerland coach, she played a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1 formation to get the best out of the players that she had at the time, but it remains to be seen whether she’ll stick with a sort of 4-4-2 formation for the German side.

As of yet, there are not a lot of upcoming games in Germany’s calendar. They will not be participating in the upcoming cup in Cyprus, but they have a friendly game against France scheduled on the 28th of February, which will be a huge game. They will then take on Sweden (another big game, reliving the 2016 Olympics final) on the 6th of April, and thereafter it is Nadeshiko Japan that is the opposition, on the 9th of April.

The German team is looking very strong, and it will be exciting to see if they can live up to the expectations at the tournament in France. A lot of people think this is the team to beat – what are your thoughts on the matter? Fire up the comment section below!

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.

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– 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.