Discussion No. 2 - Chloe Morgan
Tottenham Hotspur Women are doing everything at lightning speed at the moment. Promotion into the FA Women's Super League? Check. Appointing Heather Cowan in the newly-minted position of Head Of Women’s Football? Check. Changing the name from Spurs Ladies to reflect the changing times? Check.
It’s an exciting time to be a Spurs supporter. In the last three years there have been 2 promotions & next season will be the first ever played in the top flight. Lightning, lightning, lightning. For context, they hadn’t even reached the 4th round of the F.A. Cup until 4 years ago.
None of this would have been possible without Glenn Weaver. He had been there since the very beginning when Tottenham Hotspur Women were still called Broxbourne Ladies. He worked tirelessly behind the scenes helping with everything from kit maintenance right through to organising fixtures & even refereeing the odd game. He become the club chairman in the year 2000.
Glenn passed away in 2015 but how proud he would be now to see what was happening at the team he dedicated his life to.
And so to the current crop. A perfect mix of younger players & full internationals, you get the feeling that the team who only claimed their first victory over a top flight side in the 2017-18 season will do well in the promised land next season.
Chloe Morgan - Tottenham’s number 1 - speaks to Football And City about the growth of the women’s game, changing attitudes in society & what can be done to help improve the lives of female footballers.
The growth in popularity in women's football has exploded recently. What do you feel are the main driving factors behind this?
2018 and 2019 have seen a significant and positive shift in attitude towards the women's game. The amazing performances of our female athletes across the field has allowed for recognition of how far the women's game has come. Even just taking a recent example of the Lionesses’ incredible performances in the She Believes Cup!
I think that's largely due to the dedication and passion of the footballers themselves, behind the scenes putting in countless hours in the gym and training sessions and making personal sacrifices which in turn translate into better, fitter, stronger performances.
There is now a better framework to support the players. The majority of clubs at full time and part time level now have the brilliant and crucial support of medical teams, strength and conditioning teams, highly qualified coaches and physiotherapists and experienced managers, all making sure that the players are able to get the most from the effort being put in.
Another significant change has been the use of social media to promote the women's game and encourage better engagement with fans. The more exposure the women's game is getting on TV and in the press and online, the more you can see the positive impact this has on aspiring young female footballers. For me, I think that's one of the most rewarding things about playing - every time I see an aspiring young footballer turn up to a game to support the team, the team and I know we have to go out on to that pitch and make them proud and encourage them to think that one day, they will be doing the same thing!
What are the main challenges facing girls and women looking to get into the sport?
I think the barriers for women and girls getting into football in the UK have been massively reduced. For any person wanting to get into football, there are now clubs across large sections of the country which cater to most levels from beginner upwards. A lot of clubs also have Academies and sports programmes to encourage all players to get involved.
As with any aspiring athlete, there will always be the challenge of making sacrifices and prioritising what is important to you as you progress. Speaking from my own experience, it has often been difficult to juggle a full time career in the law with football training and matches. Fortunately I have had both an understanding employer and an understanding manager and coach who have appreciated how important both aspects of my life are and this has allowed some flexibility in my schedule for big deadlines or big games!
How big a role do you think that football can play in challenging stereotypes about women & helping to reduce gender inequality in wider society?
Massive, is the simple answer! Attitudes are changing and rightly so! The last 10 years has seen a beautiful wave of positivity for women's sport and a lot of that is due to the amazing performances of our teams. Not only can we look at the Lionesses and their achievements, but we can also look at the achievements of the England Women's Rugby Team winning the World Cup in 2014, the England Women's Hockey Team winning gold in the 2016 Olympics and the England Netball Team who are currently ranked 2nd in the INF World rankings.
Whilst these are purely (and absolutely incredible) sporting achievements, they carry with them the message that women are high achieving, strong, ambitious, powerful, dedicated, capable of anything and have the potential to do even more - and these messages flow into every aspect of life, whether on the field, in the workplace, at home and as a general mantra!
The impact of sport to help empower can never be underestimated!
Will this summer's World Cup be the final piece in the puzzle into launching the women's side of the game firmly into mainstream consciousness?
The World Cup could not have come at a better time! With the height of attention on the women's game, I could not be prouder of the Lionesses for carrying the weight of the country's expectation and support on their shoulders! No matter what happens, they will have achieved great things for the women's game and inspired generations of young players.
The TV coverage of the World Cup will most definitely help the women's game get the coverage it deserves and I hope that only moves forwards and continues to improve after the tournament!
Hypothetical: you can magically implement one thing that would improve the lives of female footballers overnight - what would you pick?
I would magic more time - maybe twice as many hours in the day! I always feel as if there's something more I can do to improve my performance, whether it be watching more video analysis, practising a technique or working on fitness. A few extra hours might help cram that additional work in!
Finally, what message would you give to girls & young women looking to get into football?
Don't hesitate, just get involved and give it a go! There are clubs all over the country welcoming players of all ages and abilities. There is literally no reason not to! I started playing when I was 7 years old and I never dreamed of being a part of such a big achievement for Spurs Women this season. If you don't try, you'll never find out what you're capable of!
Words by J.S. Leatherbarrow. Original photograph by Wu’s Photography. Artwork by FATC staff. All rights reserved.