Meet the Women in Football

As part of International Women’s Day some of the Plymouth Argyle Ladies team decided to share their thoughts on the benefits of sport and why they champion football.

 

Katie Middleton

Captain of Plymouth Argyle Ladies

1. How did you get into sport?

I have an older brother and we were always out playing some sort of sport in the streets as children. It was when I started secondary school that I really got involved in lots of different sports, including out of school clubs.

2. Why did you decide to concentrate on football?

I think my brother was a big influence in the early days and then girls football was introduced into the school curriculum when I was 14 and things took off from there. I was playing netball and volleyball as well but my passion was always for football from a young age.

3. What do you love about the sport?

The biggest thing for me is the team camaraderie involved in football and also the opportunities it has given me to test myself against some of the best players in the country in the top league.

4. Why is it important to you?

I am now coming towards the end of my playing career and I want to make sure I make the most of the time I’ve got left in the game. To be able to do that playing with good friends makes it even better.

5. What’s your ambition either as a player or for the team?

As a team, our ambitions are to keep pushing up through the leagues and compete at the highest level we can. That reflects as a player too, you always want to challenge yourself and keep improving so you can be the best player you are capable of being.

6. How important is it for us to work for better coverage and equality for female sports?

It’s hugely important, there is still such a massive gulf between the women’s and men’s games, particularly in football and the only way that improves is through public perceptions and getting more people along to watch games. That’s got to start with better media coverage.

7. What does it mean to be a player for the Ladies team?

It’s a great honour to play for the ladies team, particularly since I’ve been here for so long and have seen the transitions that the club have gone through.

8. Tell us about playing for the team and competing.

Training is good, it’s always competitive and people work hard. We know we’re competing for places come the weekend so there’s no time for slacking. The team is full of big characters and everyone gets on really well. There’s a good mix of experience and youth which I think has helped us to progress this season. Our biggest challenges will always come off the pitch in terms of funding. Due to lack of available funds, we are only able to train once a week and everyone has to put in lots of time away from training and matches to try to help raise our public profile and get more people interested in the ladies team. I think our greatest success was our unbeaten league campaign last season, winning promotion, retaining the Devon cup, getting to the 4th round of the FA Cup. 2017/18 was a really good season, probably the best in the clubs history.

9. How do you balance training with work/home-life?

I work full time as a physiotherapist so don’t often have lots of spare time. The onus is on all of us to go and do extra gym sessions and fitness work to make up for only training once a week so it takes plenty of dedication but we do it because we love the game.

10. What’s the importance of sport?

For me personally, I think there are multiple reasons for participating in team sports, one of the main ones is being able to do something you love with your friends. It’s also important for fitness benefits and sport in general often gives you the relief or escape from busy days at work or other stresses in your life.

11. What’s the importance of sport for young people?

Again, there are multiple benefits for young people engaging in sport. They learn how to win and how to lose fairly, they build up rapports with team mates and learn good communication skills as well as learning to work together. There are obviously the health benefits that go alongside that and as a paediatric physiotherapist, I try to encourage as many people as possible to take up sports.

12. Any predictions or thoughts for the upcoming Women’s World Cup?

There are numerous teams in with a good chance of reaching the latter stages of the competition and hopefully England can be one of those. It’ll be interesting to see how we do in the SheBelieves cup where we take on the USA and Japan and that’ll probably give us more of an idea of where we are currently.

13. Final thoughts: Sport opens up lots of opportunities for women and I would encourage as many women as possibly to get involved.