Written by Emily Robinson, CEO of London Sport
This term, both my daughters signed up to afterschool football clubs at their primary school for the first time. Were they inspired success of the Lionesses winning the Euros in summer 2022? Or the Women’s Football World Cup this summer? Not likely, I could barely get them to glance at the screen. They want to play because Mummy plays and they want to teach Mummy how to do it!
I’ve always been a big football fan, but only as a spectator. When I was younger girls did not play football and I don’t remember seeing any women play football on telly.
Like many girls of my generation my memories of school sport are of freezing grass pitches, scratchy P.E knickers, not wanting to change in front of others and the humiliation of not being picked for teams.
Zoom forward a few decades and I joined London Sport as CEO 18 months ago determined to help other “normal” people like me who didn’t grow up sporty and felt excluded from sport. Earlier this year my colleagues (a lot of whom are super sporty and springy!) organised a mixed friendly football game and everyone was invited. I just thought why not, I’m the boss of London Sport, I should give it a go for heaven’s sake!
And I just loved it! It was the first time I’d played football. I couldn’t stop smiling. I enjoyed it so much I found a five a side club near me in Lewisham. Only £1 a session, drop in just for women with the age range of 17 to 65, mix of abilities and we don’t keep score but cheer each other on. I now go once a week.
My girls see me in my kit each week going out to play, and we often have a kick about before I go. They show me their skills and I love learning from them. My younger daughter who is tall for her age and is completely fearless, plays in a mixed group. She takes her whole kit to change into including shin pads.
My older daughter who is eight complained with a group of her friends to the coaches that they don’t like to play with the boys, because the gap in ability is too big – and because the boys get too competitive. So they switched to girls only football, which has made a big difference for her.
I never thought anyone would be proud of me for playing sport. But they are, and that means the world to me. And of course, I’m so proud of them for grabbing these opportunities with both hands. We’re only two short of our own five a side team!
More about #TimeTogether
This October, we’re encouraging mums, aunties, stepmums and grandmas to spend some #TimeTogether getting active with a teenage girl in their life.
Find out more about #TimeTogether and how you can get involved, and don’t forget to share your pictures and stories with us on social media!