The FA Girls’ Football Week comprises of two dedicated weeks of action throughout the year, with the November event (6th – 12th November) focussing on further and higher education. The National initiative is aimed to raise awareness and further drive participation in the women and girls’ game. As the week begins, SCAN sits down with Lancaster Women’s Football team President Maisie Stafford to talk about her football experience and the importance of this week.
SCAN: Tell us about your experience in football!
Maisie: ‘I started off playing when I was around 7 or 8 years old. I’ve always loved football but my Dad was never interested in watching or anything like that so I had to tag along with my Uncle, who was a Chelsea fan so unsurprisingly I became a huge fan too. I play centre-midfield but I love to attack; I used to play right-wing when I first started out and so a conversion to an attacking midfielder was natural. Although I’m not the quickest I’ve been described as an intelligent player and my coach used to liken me to Michael Ballack’
SCAN: What has been your personal highlight while playing at University?
Maisie: ‘Probably winning the league last season. Such a tense game, with huge drama. We had to match the 2nd place teams result in order to claim the title. We were playing Manchester Women’s 2nds and at 0-0 they ended up missing a penalty before we went right-up the other end of the field to score a penalty of our own and secure victory and the league title’
SCAN: What are your goals for this year?
Maisie: ‘Admittedly this will be a difficult year due to achieving promotion last year; as such, our aim as a club is to be able to stay at this level. The team has been playing the best football I’ve seen since playing here so I think we’re in a good place to be able to achieve this. Like every club here at Lancaster we’ll be looking to beat York in this year’s Roses, especially after a few controversial decisions at the away Roses last year!’
SCAN: What plans does the club have for BUC’s Women’s Football week?
Maisie: ‘We’ll be having a Q&A session with various people, including those on the women’s football exec, people who have never played before and freshers who have just joined this year to be able to see why people join, how to get them involved in football etc. We’re also working with Lancaster University Student’s Union VP for Activities Ben Francis to help promote it. We initially had big plans to live-stream our upcoming game against Wrexham as well as getting a professional photographer down but unfortunately they had to cancel due to too many injuries and lack of squad which was a real shame’
SCAN: Why do you think these kinds of weeks are important?
Maisie: ‘Football is one of those sports that tend to be very marmite: you either like it or you don’t. People who initially don’t like it, it’s very difficult to change their minds compared to lesser known sports; student’s, especially freshers, are more prepared to give something a try that they know little about and hasn’t had as much exposure from the media. We’ve had many people who are ‘friends of friends’ of current players come down this year and often they decide that they really like it. Women’s football is gathering a lot more steam nationally, despite often being overlooked so getting more people willing to try the sport and give it a go is really helpful to developing a real grassroots platform for the national game to continue to build on. Growing up it was so difficult to find a team. I played for around 4 teams which had folded so when I found Coundon Court at around 14 it was hugely important to my development as a player that I had somewhere I could regularly play and a group of young women you can regularly interact with. To have an option for women out there to regularly play football is massively important for a sport that is really on the rise and to players across the country’
SCAN: Finally, what fixtures have you got coming up?
Maisie: ‘We’re playing Durham 2nds on Wednesday the 15th October, kick off is at 2pm on, likely, one of the grass pitches by the tennis court. We’d love to get down as many people down to support as possible!’