Royal Future - An Interview With Matty Edwards Of Mersey Royal Girls

Mersey Royal Girls - Football And The City
Off the field the chairman has embraced the girls massively. Welcoming them to the club with a trip to watch Liverpool v Torino, buying us a kit and hoodies before we even had enough players. The men’s first team set up also treat us as equals.
— Matty Edwards - mersey royal girls

Interview by J.S. Leatherbarrow

It’s the year 2099 and the new century is about to dawn. Human beings have finally been united, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexuality. We’ve formed an uneasy alliance to fight back against the sentient robots that have made us their slaves. But in the 30 years proceeding this, something terrible happened.

There was a near-universal Matriarchy. Women regularly sexually harassed men, they stopped them from getting the top jobs, they paid themselves more, they belittled them & did daily psychological damage by telling them they weren’t equal - they weren’t as good as them.

All this was based on the males of the species having a slightly different body to them. There were now 30 year old men, who had grown up their entire lives, knowing they were somehow inferior.

They were told they only got top jobs because they performed sexual favours for their female counterparts whilst constantly being reminded that they didn’t deserve to be there.

Sound familiar?

Rewind to 2019 and this is still the world we are living in - only with the roles reversed. But particularly in football.

Alex Scott seems to bear the brunt of a nation of disgruntled men who can’t quite seem to grasp what she is doing there. Comments range from the lewd to the downright misogynistic. These comments are tangible proof as to why we need more women gracing our screens - not less.

Women’s football is fantastic. It always was but is getting better rapidly as more money, more professional contracts (meaning no need for second jobs outside of football) and better sponsorship revenues come flooding into the game.

There is such a long way to go. But there is a new generation coming through which is frankly inspiring & exactly what the game needs.

Mersey Royal Girls are one such club. They are playing their first ever season of football. They have embraced social media & made a lot of good friends in the game. They were A.S. Roma’s Team Of The Day and the floodgates opened from there. Mersey Royal have existed since 1945 - but this is the first time they have had a female team.

They are the future of the sport & we need more people like the Chairman of Mersey Royal, Darrell Karisa & more visionaries like club secretary, Matty Edwards, to have the drive and desire to set girls’ teams up to begin with. To treasure them. To give them the rocket fuel to fly to the stars. To allow them the space & time to flourish.

The more there are, the more it will become normalised and the more it becomes normalised, the sooner it will be accepted by a wider section of society.

And hopefully we won’t be robot slaves by the turn of the century. I hope even more so that women are treated as equals in my lifetime - both inside & outside of football.

I spoke with Matty about how the team was born, what challenges girls face in the game and what the future holds for MRG.

FATC: What is this history behind Mersey Royal Girls? Why did you decide to start it?

ME: I’m secretary of Mersey Royal first team having played for them since 17. Being coach of my daughters team at another club, I was unhappy how things were ran, so I decided to leave with my daughter and set up my own team under Mersey Royal who I have a long standing history with.

FATC: What were the biggest challenges in getting a brand new girl's team off the ground?

ME: Recruitment of players. Girls football still needs to break down barriers from not only male counterparts but also from parents. Girls from an early age are pointed towards gymnastics, dance, etc. before football. Slowly that’s changing but girls enter football a lot later age wise than boys.

I was helped a lot with Dave Hazlehurst (coach), he followed me to Mersey Royal with his daughter who is in the same class as my daughter, both of us coach the girls. We see ourselves as coaches rather than managers: we coach the girls and allow them to manage their own game on the pitch as it’s them playing not us.

FATC: How has your first season been going so far?

ME: Superb!! Off the field the chairman has embraced the girls massively. Welcoming them to the club with a trip to watch Liverpool v Torino, buying us a kit and hoodies before we even had enough players. The men’s first team set up also treat us as equals.

On the pitch we have 11 girls girls who turn up week in week out with a smile on their faces.

FATC: What are the main challenges facing any young girl with dreams of becoming a footballer? How much harder is it for them than boys?

ME: Stigma of “its only girls football” these barriers need breaking down first and foremost. “They play football not girls football!” It’s inclusive to all, so I try to explain this everyone I coach.

Percentage wise it’s probably higher for a girl to make it than a boy.

FATC: Do you try to give the girls positive female role models in the world of football? If so who?

ME: We recently did a Twitter Q&A with professional player Katie Rood, she was so positive towards them. Female players are a lot more approachable and fan friendly than the male counterparts. Liverpool ladies play at Prenton park were we encourage our players to go and watch.

FATC: What are the plans for the future? Do you hope to bring in more age-groups?

ME: To get another girls team at the club. Slowly grow the girls section as a family set up, rather than a big unmanageable set up. Some clubs get lost in what’s important, our players are the focal point of our club.

FATC: What is the best piece of advice you could pass onto a young girl hoping to make it in the game? 

ME: Work hard with a smile. There is a lot of boundaries already in front of them, so they need to work harder.

Interview by J.S. Leatherbarrow. Original artwork by FATC - all rights reserved.

J.S. Leatherbarrow