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Getting girls into football and sport: Q&A with England vice-captain and Arsenal star Alex Scott - ANSWERS BACK

(57 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 20-Aug-13 16:30:17

Have you got a soccer-mad daughter? Do you want to find out what opportunities there are for her to get into playing football and what it's like to be a semi-professional woman footballer?

Alex Scott, who plays for Arsenal Ladies and is England vice-captain, will answer your questions and share her experiences and insights. Alex is one of the most decorated players in women's football. She currently plays for Arsenal Ladies but has previously played for Birmingham and for the Boston Breakers in the US.

This Q&A is sponsored by Continental Tyres, which is also an official sponsor of The FA Women's Super League (WSL).

The WSL runs from March to October and gives footie fans across England the chance to see elite women's football at local stadiums for affordable prices.

At selected matches across England, there are free interactive fan zones, run in association with Continental Tyres, with family-friendly activities from testing football skills on a speed goal to face painting and meeting the stars of the WSL.

Continental Tyres are giving away 50 family season tickets for the rest of 2013 and the whole of the 2014 season, so that you can enjoy a family-friendly day out or after-school event at your local WSL club. Enter the prize draw here.

Please post your question to Alex by noon on Monday 26 August. We'll pick 20 questions to send over to her and post her replies on Monday 2 Sept.

Thank you.

Firocoda Sat 24-Aug-13 14:57:14

Why is it so difficult to find a team for a 15 year-old girl in Southeast London? There is so little organised information available about teams that might be suitable. We have travelled up to an hour each way so she can train at the PDC but there are seemingly no teams that are local.

BangOn Sat 24-Aug-13 17:38:57

Hi Alex,

Just wondering what things were like for you at pre-school or primary school age...

Dd1 loved having a kickaround from about 2 yrs onwards. We finally got her into 'mini kickers' aged 5 & it was diheartening to see her enthusiasm evaporate when she realised she was the only girl amongst 30 or so boys. They all played really rough & were egged on by their dads, & laughed at her if she took her time kicking the ball. She gave up after one term. She's now 7 & i'd still dearly love for her to play, but worry any class would have the same macho atmosphere.

Dd2 is now 3.7 & in a similar stage of enthusiasm about the game as dd1 was at that age. Really want both of them to feel they have as much right to play & enjoy football as any boy. Any suggestions welcome!

Pachacuti Sun 25-Aug-13 18:41:11

StainlessSteelBegonia, probably netball or hockey in most areas. But hockey isn't normally started until you're 11 or so.

Khara Sun 25-Aug-13 18:57:40

My 8 year old dd has just been accepted into our local CoE (as a goalie).
As an U9 she can still play for her grassroots team - she's the only girl in the team and indeed in the club. She'd much prefer to keep playing with the boys (a real tomboy) but next year she'll have to make a decision if she continues into the U11s at the CoE as she'd have to give up her grassroots team then. What would you advise her?

MrsSchadenfreude Mon 26-Aug-13 09:06:36

My DD1, who is nearly 15, played for her school team (international school) in France. She's just tried out for her school team in UK (another international school) and didn't make the team. We are re-locating back to London next week - how do I find a team that she can play in/practise with at the weekend? She has told me that if you're not on the team, you don't get to play football at all in her new school, and she's very upset about it. The coach merely told her that she wasn't good enough, and she should try out next year if she still wanted to play. I'd like her to play at the weekends to build her self confidence and because she enjoys the sport.

Lampshadeofdoom Mon 26-Aug-13 10:03:29

I find it is getting better, near us are a couple of FA run schemes for boys and girls age 18 months to 5 years and 2 - 5 years.

I find after that is where the issue is concerned most and also in some schools. DC school does not have ANY girls sports teams at all hmm, they do not do football as part of the pe lessons.

So now my eldest (11 almost) has never played football properly other than at a tesco scheme.

This is NOT how we are going to get female football stars.

legalalien Mon 26-Aug-13 15:33:32

Firocoda - you could try the Dulwich Village Vixens - not sure what age they go up to but the coaching staff are really helpful and I'm sure would put you in touch with another team if necessary. See

www.dulwichmagic.co.uk/

At least a couple of the south London cricket clubs actively encourage girls to participate (girls are allowed to play alongside boys in Surrey club league games and are entitled to play a year down ie in a younger age group).

Boaty Mon 26-Aug-13 15:54:21

You would really have thought things would be better in 2013. I had the 'it's a boys' sport in the 1970s! It really needs addressing and the 'macho' image diluting. given that quite a few top male players are a bunch of big jessies grin
I was frequently in trouble for kicking the netballs as a child, Oh, how I hated that game! grin
I played with the boys on my estate until early teens when the boys joined teams. I, and other girls, asked to form a team at school and were laughed at! It was too far to go to get to a girls team, My family had little money and no car in those days. I gave up, only kicking a ball around with DC.
My DD played at her primary school (captaining the under 9s) before transferring to a senior school, they had 1 girls match that year. She did sports at college and has her level 1 to coach but hasn't played since!Getting teenage girls to stay interested in sport is difficult anyway, although you would have thought being fit would be higher on their list as body image is important to most.
Unfortunately it has also acquired the image of being the sport for 'butch lesbians' not something for girly girls! I'm now mid 40s and am playing again, I went along to a training session and the girls asked me to come back, I trained only for the first season and played matches last season. So, nearly 2 years later I am a team regular and having a wonderful time, but boy, have I had comments about my sexuality! hmm

I really hope the profile of the girls/womens' game does continue to improve because the fact there are more teams around does give hope but there is still a long way to go.

RebeccaSMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 04-Sep-13 15:48:08

Hi everyone

We've now got the answers back from Alex Scott and I will be posting them up shortly.

FourGates Wed 04-Sep-13 16:01:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AlexScottFootball Wed 04-Sep-13 16:41:29

FourGates

I have a football crazy three year old. Would absolutely love to win a season ticket for man city who have just entered the WSL. My boys would be v chuffed (well perhaps not the united fan but shame on united for not having a women's team grrrrr).

My question is about football in schools, how do you think that girls can be encouraged to play more at school? Especially primary? I feel so often they are so far behind even at 5 that they are under confident to play against the boys. I take my DD to football training and she holds her own (as much as a 3 year old can) but am worried at school where virtually no girls play she will be disheartened.

Thanks smile

It is a difficult one I’m afraid, as every school does sports slightly differently. If there are a few parents that have this concern, I’d suggest speaking to the PE teacher to see what can be done about things, there wasn’t much girls football at my school either so I joined a local girls team when I was old enough and got into Arsenal’s system when I was eight luckily. I think that encouragement has to come from the sport teachers in the individual schools.

AlexScottFootball Wed 04-Sep-13 16:44:38

fffinsake

Do you think, in order to encourage girls to the sport or for any other reasons, there should be specific provision for girls from childhood onwards? Or do you think more should be done to teach sport in an inclusive way in schools? Much as it seems wrong to me to have segregation, if it's going to get women into playing then it has to be worthwhile.

Well girls can play with boys in mixed football up until the age of 14 at the moment under FA rules, I think football should be inclusive of gender and schools have to take that on, I see many good things happening at schools I visit when I’m coaching when it comes to sport and football should be taught in school regardless of if you’re a boy or a girl as they can mixed up until 14.

AlexScottFootball Wed 04-Sep-13 16:46:25

ninilegsintheair

My DD is 2 and a half and enjoys football (which is great as both me and her Dad are footy mad grin). I played one of the big women's football sides as a teenager in the early 2000's and loved it - I left my club when I went across the country to go to university where there was no local team and the university football team involved nothing but drinking and dares of running through town naked. sad

We're already finding that little boys her age don't want to play 'pretend' football with her, which is a shame. Given that my DD's too little to really play football as a sport yet, how can I help her develop the kinds of skills that would be useful as a player? How do I nurture and encourage her? And what encourgaed YOUR love of the game from an early age?

By the way gladbagsGold - I was also at the Canada v France game! Great day out wasn't it! grin

Thanks, I just loved playing when I was a young girl and I found it didn’t matter who I played with as long as I enjoyed playing. It can be tough when you have a daughter so young, I would just keep persevering and maybe when she is a bit older, encourage her to join a local girls team so her love of football keeps strong. I think even kicking the ball about with her in the garden or taking her to the park on a regular basis is still a great way of developing her abilities until she is old enough to join a team, that’s how I learnt to play and luckily when I was eight, Arsenal spotted me so I went straight into their system.

AlexScottFootball Wed 04-Sep-13 16:47:43

RhondaJean

My 8 year old has just started training and playing with the local pro teams associated girls team. I would really appreciate any tips on how to keep her interested, she's as keen as mustard just now.

Thanks.

I would just always make sure she enjoys playing and take an interest in how well she is doing, my mum was brilliant with me when I was young, she didn’t push me but always encouraged me and supported me, took me to training and games and watched me which really helped me when I wanted to play football. I think once she starts playing regularly, she will grow to love it just as much as I do!

AlexScottFootball Wed 04-Sep-13 16:50:21

NonnoMum

Just to let you know my daughter really enjoyed watching Team GB at Wembley during the Olympics. I don't think she thinks of it as a boys sport at all.

I have made enquiries about her joining a club but it will cost £100 a season!! is this normal for under 8s?

This is not an area I’ve got experience in so it is difficult for me to answer, I’d try a few different clubs in your area and see what the cost is, alternatively it's probably best to contact your local county FA and I’m sure they will be able to help with finding your daughter a club and giving you an average cost which I would hope is a lot lower than £100!

AlexScottFootball Wed 04-Sep-13 16:52:17

Firocoda

Why is it so difficult to find a team for a 15 year-old girl in Southeast London? There is so little organised information available about teams that might be suitable. We have travelled up to an hour each way so she can train at the PDC but there are seemingly no teams that are local.

I would get in touch with the London County FA and see if they can help / support you with finding your daughter a local club or team, I know football is massive in London so I’m sure they will be able to help you find a club that is not too far away from where you live.

AlexScottFootball Wed 04-Sep-13 16:54:44

MrsSchadenfreude

My DD1, who is nearly 15, played for her school team (international school) in France. She's just tried out for her school team in UK (another international school) and didn't make the team. We are re-locating back to London next week - how do I find a team that she can play in/practise with at the weekend? She has told me that if you're not on the team, you don't get to play football at all in her new school, and she's very upset about it. The coach merely told her that she wasn't good enough, and she should try out next year if she still wanted to play. I'd like her to play at the weekends to build her self confidence and because she enjoys the sport.

I would get in touch with the London County FA and see if they can help / support you with finding your daughter a local club or team, I know football is massive in London so I’m sure they will be able to help you find a club that is not too far away.

Playing regularly will help develop your daughter’s skills and football ability, be positive and don’t give up, joining a league club at the weekend will help her prepare for proving her coach wrong next year!

AlexScottFootball Wed 04-Sep-13 16:56:25

biryani

My daughter is footie-mad. We live in a city with a Premier League team. However getting girls to play, especially those of around 10/11/12, is a problem here. Consequently, forming and sustaining a team of girls is a real issue.

My question is: why can't girls play alongside boys? They are about the same size, have similar levels of fitness, and are at least as tough, in my experience.

Under FA rules, it is possible to play mixed football up until the age of 14 when the development of boys and girls physical attributes really do start to change. I’d contact your local County FA to see what clubs and teams are local to you, including mixed football teams.

AlexScottFootball Wed 04-Sep-13 16:57:45

Khara

My 8 year old dd has just been accepted into our local CoE (as a goalie).
As an U9 she can still play for her grassroots team - she's the only girl in the team and indeed in the club. She'd much prefer to keep playing with the boys (a real tomboy) but next year she'll have to make a decision if she continues into the U11s at the CoE as she'd have to give up her grassroots team then. What would you advise her?

I’d say do what she feels she wants to do and what will make her happy, playing football first and foremost at that age is enjoying playing whomever she is playing with. If she wants to continue playing for her grassroots teams and does not want to give that up, then maybe it’s a further conversation that is needed with the CofE as to how she could continue to do both.

AlexScottFootball Wed 04-Sep-13 16:59:08

scrappydappydoo

Interesting - we are not a football family - no-one watches or plays football except my 5 yr old dd who really enjoys playing at an after school football club. She is one of two girls in a club of over 60 children. She always has a great time and was awarded player of the term. However we have a frequent battle to get her there because she doesn't like being the only girl in her group. It appears to be the same in all the other local clubs - very high number of boys and 1 or 2 girls which is very intimidating. Not being a footballing family I have no clue how to handle this or where to go to get information or help and dd is on the verge of giving up not because she doesn't like playing but because of confidence issues. Any advice?

Yes, I would contact your local County FA and see what help they can provide with information on clubs and leagues in your local area and how to join them. It maybe that she finds it easier in a mixed team or a girls team, and probably one that is closer so please contact the County FA and see how they can help you with this, I'm sure they will be able to.

AlexScottFootball Wed 04-Sep-13 17:01:40

Stressedtothehilt

My daughter plays for an u11 squad in a centre of excellence. Which country worldwide do you think is the most advanced with regards to young girls football development? And why?

This is hard to answer as I have not seen other centres from around the world. I came through a centre of excellence at Arsenal, and from then to now the change and the development is massive. I think around the world most countries women's football is trying to be developed massively. There are so many different pathways for girls to be involved with football and have access to the top facilities and coaches and we are lucky that the FA have invested a lot of money into girls’ football in this country and hopefully this will pay off in the near future with the production of great players through the centres into the national team.

AlexScottFootball Wed 04-Sep-13 17:03:33

IKnewHouseworkWasDangerous

With the ever increasing amount of mens football on tv, and the number of sports channels to fill, why dont we see more womens football on tv?

We would absolutely love to see more women's football on TV and it’s an ongoing battle for this to happen. At the moment, however, the interest is getting greater every year and this will put the pressure on for more games to be shown. I thought the BBC did a great job with the coverage of the Euros this summer in not only showing the England games but the whole tournament and this is what we need more of. BT Sport are also showing WSL games now and the BBC have the ‘Women’s Football Show’ on a Monday night. This is a great step forward for the women's game in this country and hopefully it will only get better.

AlexScottFootball Wed 04-Sep-13 17:05:52

BackforGood

I think there's a real 'chicken and egg' problem with lack of TV coverage for women's football - it was great to see the Euros being the exception - but with so little women's football being shown on mainstream TV, then people don't get to watch it, and see what a good standard it is, so don't get the chance to 'get into it', and therefore want to watch it.

How do you think we can get more publicity for the game, so therefore get more people taking it seriously ?

I think the game at Wembley for Team GB showed that the women's game can fill stadiums and have a great atmosphere to match. I feel if it's marketed in the right way and the girls are put in the public's faces more instead of just when tournaments come around then the interest will be there.

AlexScottFootball Wed 04-Sep-13 17:09:05

Rooners

Hi there.

I wanted to ask, have things really changed now?

I hope so, when I was at primary I was playing football with the boys and was told to stop, as it was not for girls, I got a proper telling off, told I was being silly, I'd get hurt, not to be so naughty.

I never played it again - and then I got into cricket, and tried playing that when I was about 14/15 and nobody would take me seriously.

I gave up in the end. Today we were at the cricket ground, looking through the gate and all that was happening was a ladies' best dressed competition hmm

I couldn't believe it sad

Is that still how women are seen in trad male sport - as decorative accessories to the men, who don't actually care about the game?

I hope that these days women, or girls, are taken seriously in football, cricket, in every sport and not taken the mickey out of until they just quit. But I'm not sure it isn't just as difficult now to be allowed to join in on equal terms.

The game has changed a lot, but continues to be an ongoing battle to get the recognition for like what you said is a male dominated sport. However, what I tend to find is that the people who joke about women's football and try to degrade it are the same people that have never been to a game or actually seen a game live. I have had various male friends over the years come to a game and comment on the level of play and how they were so impressed and never actually knew they would enjoy it so much. I am lucky to receive lots of positive messages from men and women on social media commenting on the level of play they have seen in games which is great. Women continue to break down these kind of boundaries in everyday life but as long as we continue the fight and don't give up hopefully one day soon women will be viewed equal on many things.

AlexScottFootball Wed 04-Sep-13 17:10:15

aristocat

My daughter would like to ask who was your inspiration (sporting or otherwise) please?

My mum is a huge inspiration to me. Not once did she try to make me change my mind or my direction in life when all I wanted to do was play football. She was there to support me when I had my rejections and she has been there to support me in my achievements and I think she is a phenomenal woman that inspires me to always want to do better. I also loved Ian Wright, simply because I found him infectious as a player. He had so much enthusiasm and love for the game and always played with a smile on his face.

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