What are your thoughts on how the women’s game has changed since England won the Euros in 2022?
I think it's had a very positive impact on attendance and overall visibility of the game. Living in England, I have definitely noticed a big difference – more people are talking about it, more people are interested in women's football, and women's sport in general has really improved and risen dramatically in popularity since England won the Euros, which is great to see.
Who do you consider to be a women's football sporting role model and why?
My football role model is Julie Fleeting. When I was younger, she was the local girl, from my area, who was really successful in the game, was playing for Arsenal and still living in Scotland. I think that shows the difference in women's football in those times to now, too. She was training and playing with a boys’ team during the week, and then she would fly to London for the games that she'd play with Arsenal. She was the first person that I saw in football that made me think that it was possible to become a footballer when I'm older.
In sporting generally, one of the first people I was inspired by was probably Serena Williams. In tennis, it’s a bit more a level playing field in terms of male and female exposure – it’s perhaps slightly ahead of football. But I think football will get there eventually – we know it’s a process, and Rome wasn’t built in a day! We are quite behind men’s football in terms of development of the game, but there’s no reason why we can’t get to a stage where the playing field is level.
What do you consider to be the main barriers or challenges to female participation in football and sports generally?
I can only really talk from experience, but when I was growing up, a lot of people advised me not to try to become a footballer because being a female footballer was kind of unheard of during that time. I was faced with a lot of people, including school teachers and coaches, saying, “you’re a female,” “you can’t become a professional footballer,” “you can’t make it your job” – but I believe you most certainly can if you put your mind to it.
I’m fortunate that my parents were very supportive and told me, “do what you want to do and what you believe in, and what makes you happy”. From an early age, they could see that football was something that I was good at and that I really, really enjoyed it. If it’s your passion, especially as a kid, then you just have to let someone see out their passion.
It might have been a different story if I was not achieving what I would have liked to achieve. I haven’t really wanted to settle and just say, “right, football is my life and I’ll forget about everything else” – I am conscious that football isn’t forever, and I am working to have a back-up plan for when I retire, because the salaries are not quite the same in the women’s game as the men’s game.
What do you think needs to be done at all levels to improve women's representation in sport?
I think, first of all, a change in attitudes is needed – I think that comes from seeing successful women on TV and seeing people achieving things you might not normally have seen. I think that definitely helps encourage more women into the sport.
Visibility is also really important – if you can’t see it, you can’t be it, and I think it’s really important to see role models on TV.
And finally, what are you doing to celebrate International Women's Day?
I will be celebrating by playing a game against Brighton – it’s business as usual for me, just another day of work. I'm sure the club will be doing a lot around International Women's Day to celebrate and increase the exposure of that. But my job is just to win on the night!