Thursday, 16 January 2014

Man City's Andie Worrall, who is also a patron for Just a Ball Game, gives us an honest insight into her football career and personal life:

Q. You were recently the winner of 'LGBT role model of the year' Homo Heroes award, how does it feel to be recognised for such an achievement?

It was a great honour and also a surprise. I never expected to win as I had only just really started my work with JBG (Just a Ball Game) but it was fantastic to win such a great award.

Q. You're currently the only 'out' player at women's elite football level. Do you feel other players are scared to come out due to homophobic abuse/lack of support, or is it more because they prefer to keep their private lives out of the limelight so to speak?

I definitely think it’s more the latter. I have never found homophobia to be a major problem in women’s football so there wouldn’t be a big issue with coming out. A lot of my friends just like keep their personal life private.

Q. We see male football covered in the media everyday and its refreshing that someone like yourself is getting positive publicity for making a stand. Do you feel that women's football needs more of this publicity for the game to move forward, in terms of involvement and participation?
I think women’s football is striving forward every single day and we are seeing more and more coverage in the media. It has come on leaps and bounds in the 26 years that I have been involved. I think women's football is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and the more we see of it on TV or in the news is only going to make these figures grow.

Q. As a patron for JBG, what activities/events do you get involved in?

Last week I went to visit the Hyde United U12s girls team to celebrate JBG 3rd birthday while they were training and had a chat with them. I walked at Pride with my parents and  also got a group of friends to play at the gay games in the summer which was great. I intend to get involved in more events over the next 12 months.

Q. It's nice to see Manchester City Ladies have gained a place in next year's super league. Are you relishing the opportunity to play in such a talented league and hopefully get more TV coverage of your games?
It will be the highlight of my career to be involved with my club at the top level of women's football, something I have dreamed about since I started playing. The girls and I have already been hard at work for the last few months as we all want to  make a real impression on the manager and coaches. We cant wait to get started properly. It will be amazing to see City Ladies on the TV.

Q. For any young girls out there that play football, what piece of advice would you give them?
You have to work hard and be dedicated. You have to train hard, eat right and live your life in the proper way. The opportunities now for young female footballers are endless. We now have the facilities and the coaches which I wasn’t lucky enough to have at a young age. But you also need the desire and application to work alongside all of that.

Q. You work as a housing manager as well as playing football. Do you find working an additional job affects your game in anyway? Obviously in the men's game, they train all week to prepare for big matches, whereas most professional players have jobs and some even have kids to juggle also.

Of course having a full time job on top of trying to play football at a high level is difficult. I will often go to training after a 9 or 10 hour day at work and feel tired but you have to grit your teeth and get through that. I train every day at present twice a week with the team and five times a week on my own and its hard going but its definitely worth it. Its going to be really hard work in Jan when we train 5 or 6 times a week but I am willing to do this as I want to play at the highest level for my beloved club.

Many thanks for your answers Andie and good luck for the season ahead. For more information on Just a Ball Game's work on raising the awareness of homophobic/anti-gay issues, visit

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Zlatan strikes a low blow to women's football...

...with his disrespectful comments in the Swedish press.

Never far from the limelight, Ibrahimovic's ever apparent male ego shone through yet again when he spoke here to the Swedish Expressen newspaper. Ibrahimovic had originally directed his anger towards the Swedish FA over their decision to give Anders Svensson a new Volvo for breaking Thomas Ravelli's record of over 143 international caps. He felt the gesture was insulting towards Svensson and that he deserved better recognition for his achievement. However, Therese Sjogran failed to get a similar reward even though she has earned a record 187 caps playing for Sweden.

Ibrahimovic was asked for his opinion in the interview and responded with claims that male footballers deserve more recognition: "With all respect for what the ladies have done, and they've done it fantastically well, you can't compare men's and women's football. Give it up, it's not even funny."

He genuinely seems insulted to even be associated with female players, stating: "I was asked in the summer who was the better player, me or (Swedish female player) Lotta Schelin. You're joking with me, right? Do I have to answer that?........When I come out in Europe they compare me to Messi and Ronaldo. When I come home they compare me to a female player. What the hell, should I feel ashamed to come home?"

Given the fact that professional female footballers get paid minimally compared their male counterparts, Ibrahimovic being one of the highest paid in the world, he suggested how women could be rewarded: "Give them a bicycle with my autograph and that will be enough."

His comments sparked a response from head coach of the Sweden women's national team, Pia Sundhage, who said: "Boring and sad for Swedish football when a team captain puts it so. It betrays a lack of male football values.

Therese Sjogran also expressed her disappointment over the comments: "He is the biggest sporting profile that we have in Sweden and there are many who listen to him and have him as a role model.....At one moment he says that we are fantastic and then he thinks we should have a bike.....It feels like he is up and down in the article and is unfortunately wrong in my opinion." In an interview with Sydsvenskan, she further added: "He devalues our sport and women in general.......I understand him when he says that the men's team brings in more money and exposure. but it's still about respect, we're doing the same stuff: it's football. then one should not compare men and women, it is quite impossible."

Sjogran was later presented with a new car and the story got lot's of media attention, especially in Sweden. It feels like a real shame though when high profile players like Zlatan don't use their status to highlight issues within the sport-whether it's sexism, homophobia, racism, etc. Don't get me wrong, there are many footballers out there doing so and contributing to charities and projects within football or other areas. But women's football needs not only the support of the fans, media and clubs, but also that of male players who have the power to influence people's opinions and change the future of the game.