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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.

RhondaJean Mon 09-Sep-13 22:06:11

Hi Alex a little late but thank you so much for answering me and all the others.

Rooners Mon 09-Sep-13 09:59:36

Thankyou very much for the reply smile

gazzalw Mon 09-Sep-13 09:43:47

Yes, thanks for the answers, Alex!

aristocat Thu 05-Sep-13 17:08:16

Super answers, thanks Alex. Wishing you continued success smile

AlexScottFootball Wed 04-Sep-13 17:18:12


My DD likes playing football and plays alongside boys for now, but she is only 6. She won Player of the Week trophy on a recent football course much to dismay of the strapping older boys including her big brother!

Congratulations on the Olympics - on the team's results and also in raising the profile of women's football. I was lucky enough to go to a match between Canada and France and it was brilliant. Except that it wasn't GB playing wink

I'd like to know what your best memory of the Olympics is please?

This is an easy one and if you asked all the Team GB girls I think 99% would give you the same answer. That being playing at Wembley in front of 70,000 and beating Brazil. The atmosphere was truly amazing and a night most of us will never forget.

AlexScottFootball Wed 04-Sep-13 17:16:40


Arsenal ladies seem to be way ahead of Chelsea and every other premier league ladies club. But I can't work out why. Why do you think that is?
I do not think that ladies should play alongside boys. At aged 11 / 12 , as some posters have mentioned. I think the differences are too much.therefore I can only assume that these ages of girls need more support/ opportunities.

Arsenal have always been the club to follow and have paved the way for many other women's clubs to follow its set up simply because Arsenal Ladies have been so successful in winning trophies over the years. Other teams are now getting the support from the men's team which is great just like Liverpool and Chelsea. Not only in terms of money but in terms of training facilities, ladies kits, the support staff which is fantastic. The investment has helped so much from the FA that teams can now bring in top players from other leagues which makes teams stronger all round. This also helps players playing alongside other top international players. This season has been the closest it has ever been and shows the gap is now closing between Arsenal and the other teams.

AlexScottFootball Wed 04-Sep-13 17:11:54


I still think that a lot of parents (and possibly me included) are still locked into gender-stereotypes regarding sports blush. I know the primary schools seem to do a lot to ensure that sports such as football and tag rugby encompass girls in the teams as much as boys but somehow once they get to secondary school, the girls don't generally seem to be as keen on playing any sports let alone ones like football....

It therefore seem to me that although the FA's WSL it doing a good job at changing these outdated attitudes, there's still some way to go. It's a bit depressing...

How did you get and stay involved? Did you get sponsorship? Were you nurtured in your football talents from a very young age?

And does Arsenal have a more progressive approach to women's football than many of the other 'big' clubs?


I was lucky back in my day to get spotted and snapped up by Arsenal when I was 8, so I progressed through the youth ranks into the first team onto the national team also. I had no funding or sponsorship and back then there was no money in women’s football. Now most clubs have youth systems in place or run soccer schools etc. during half terms or holidays. For young players nowadays there are all types of different schemes and funding available to try to make you stay involved in sport and to push you to train and be the best which is great.

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


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.

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


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 17:05:52


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 17:03:33


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 17:01:40


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 16:59:08


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 16:57:45


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 16:56:25


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 16:54:44


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 16:52:17


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 16:50:21


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 16:47:43


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.


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 16:46:25


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 16:44:38


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 16:41:29


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.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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.

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