Wednesday August 03, 2022

I am nine and want to become a footballer

I am nine and want to become a footballer

Time to celebrate.

Olivia Newbigging, The Independent

I’m overjoyed the Lionesses won the Euros against Germany. They played with such skill and determination. I watched it all at home with my mum and dad and brother – I was just sad it didn’t start at 7.30pm, so I could stay up even later!

My favourite England player is Ella Toone because she scores brilliant goals in the right moment at the right time. I thought the match was great, especially the point where Toone scored her goal. The defender passed it to her and it was brilliant that she was so composed to do that, in such an important game. She just tipped the goal right over the keeper. I want the England kit now — with Toone on the back.

When England scored I felt so happy — then sad when we conceded. I shouted out loud when we scored, “Come on England!” I think the next thing for the Lionesses will be the World Cup.

I first got into football last year, in the summer holidays, after my mum booked me into a one-day holiday camp down the road and I really enjoyed it. We did matches and some fun games, like gauntlet and bull dog. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to come to the holiday camp every day. By the time it was finished, my mum got a message from the coach and he said, “Can she play for our girls team? We don’t have that many people.”

The first time I went, people said I was good at football. Being a girl being interested in football feels good. There are not many of us — girls who want to be footballers and who watch most of the matches and who study the sport. But in my year group, there are two girls other than me — one in my class and one in another class — who go to after-school clubs to play football. I gave the girls in my class a football lesson — where I was the teacher! I even got to teach my own teacher some tricks.

Most of the boys don’t mind playing with me. Once, one of the boys at school said, “girls can’t play football” — but I just ignored him and carried on. I’ve played for the boys’ team in tournaments where I was the only girl, and in matches when the goalie was on holiday. I’m only nine but I’m training with the under-11 girls’ team at AFC Wimbledon. My mum has to drive me for an hour to get there every week but she doesn’t really mind that much. I’m also playing for a local team in east London.

I don’t think people pay enough attention to women’s football. Once, I was watching a women’s football match and I was looking at the crowd, and the stadium looked tiny – the capacity was about 50 people and it could only hold that many, and there was only one person watching and they were on their phone! Women’s games deserve extra space.

I want to be a footballer when I grow up. I really enjoy football and it’s really fun and I just love it. I love being in goal – and my back-up position is probably defence, because I played in a tournament once and there was already a goal-keeper. And when I retire I’ll probably be a commentator or manager.

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