I grew up in a busy house. Five girls, all close in age, all clamouring for their space in the world. My mum was the main earner in our house, and after my youngest sister was born my stepdad stayed at home to look after her once maternity leave was up. Back then, maternity leave was 12 weeks, so my mum used to come home in her lunch break (she was a primary school teacher) to breastfeed. And she would feed her through the night too, since nobody else was able to take on that job for her. She worked hard, and at the same time she showed us girls something really special. She showed us that no matter what happened in life, all we needed to do was to work hard at our dreams, and we could literally do anything.
Today, I am a mother to three girls.
Three amazing, beautiful, strong and clever girls. And yes, I intend to teach them the same things that my own mother taught me. But first, I must teach them what life taught me too. Because while my mum showed me that girl power was real, the world has always- and will always- try to push against that. I will never earn as much money as my husband. I will always face doors that remain closed, no matter how hard I knock. I will always have mountains to climb that men may not. But that’s ok! That’s really ok. The world is a different place now, and its an exciting place for my daughters to grow into.
The 2015 Women’s World Cup showed my girls something really important. It showed them that women really are capable of all the things that men are. It showed them that they have the strength, the determination and the power to succeed. It showed them that girl power was real. But what it also showed them was the stark differences between them and boys, The struggles they might face. The work they had to do to prove themselves. The fact that a member of the women’s England football team could be homeless- not earning enough money to keep a roof over her head!- has really hit home for us.
Recently we were invited to spend some time with the Manchester City Women’s football team and you can bet that we jumped at the chance. My eldest plays for her local girls team and my 4 year old has also just started training, so this was a golden opportunity for us all to learn a little something more.
About girl power.
I’m told that the atmosphere was electric. I’m told that the team were amazing. I’m told that my daughter has since corrected someone who stated that she must now want to go on and watch the ‘real team’ play. What makes the women’s team any less real? The fact that they won the league? The fact that they can play just as well as any man on the pitch? The fact that they are female?
It’s an exciting time for my girls, and for women’s football in general. It’s an exciting time because girl power is real. I believe in girl power. I believe in my girls. I believe that they can do anything that they set their minds to, and watching the Manchester City women’s football team play is proof of that.
The team were amazing,my daughter says. The game was exciting, my daughter says. The experience has been inspirational, my husband says. My eldest is more determined than ever to make football her thing. Her weekly training sessions are now more important, more purposeful and more intentional. Her weekend games are not just a chunk out of our free time each week, they are her chance to prove that she is every bit as good as the boys who play each Sunday with muddy knees and flushed cheeks.
Thank you so much to Manchester City Women’s football team, for showing my daughter that this can be done. Dreams can be chased, and caught. Ambition is everything. Being in a team, playing in a team, and caring about a team is important. Working for your goals is important. Believing in yourself is important.
A trip to see Manchester City Women play at the Academy Stadium is a great day out for the family, with ticket prices starting at only £6 for adults and £4 for children. Find out more about Manchester City Women’s football team here.