Women’s football has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, and it’s about to get a lot of love and attention when Euro 2022 kicks into action (July 6-31).
For many, women’s soccer feels like a safe space, with top players frequently speaking out on important topics like LGBTQ+ rights and body image. The game has become an important place for women to learn who they are at every level, from Saturday’s league to Wembley Stadium.
So how can women’s football and its players help to have a more positive attitude towards the body?
According to Liz Ward, who runs the workplace, empowerment and community engagement teams at Stonewall (stonewall.org.uk), is a grassroots player and was named to the Football Black List 2021, seeing different body types is one of the most empowering. game stuff.
“Being in my 30s, I grew up with Sienna Miller or Kate Moss-esque body types all over the media, and that really influenced the way we see our bodies,” she suggests. “But in women’s football, we see the various body types of female players.”
Ward says that seeing athletes whose physiques are stronger and more powerful “has helped me feel better in my body. It’s so nice to see women who look normal, who have butts and thighs. Seeing them advertised as icons is amazing.”
On a personal note, Ward says: “I’ve always hated my legs and my butt, [thinking] they were too big. But as I’ve started playing soccer again, over the last five or six years, I’m reconnecting with my legs. The more I work the strength in my legs, the better I play football”.
While some people may be intimidated by going to the gym, Ward suggests “don’t judge yourself” when playing soccer. “I grew up surrounded by girly girls, and I didn’t realize until recently how much our conversations focused on how we look and our bodies.
“In soccer, some people love to play in a sports bra; It’s not out of vanity, it’s out of trust. It’s about connecting with football in a joyful way.”
Ward is part of a team called Goaldiggers (goaldiggersfootballclub.com), saying: “The community we’ve built is inherently LGBTQ+ and trans-inclusive, and with that comes solidarity in how you look and how you feel. It’s so naturally positive and supportive.”
You may reap the mental health benefits of being part of a team, and this could have a positive impact on your body confidence.
Bhavna Malkani, co-founder of She’s Got Skills (shesgotskills.co), an inclusive women’s soccer collective, says: “Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from playing or achieving your goals. There are so many inspiring players, both professional and grassroots, who are chasing their dreams of playing.
“You can start at any age and at any level. If you show up to a Sunday league game, you’ll see a variety of women of different sizes and ages playing, which is beautiful,” adds Malkani. “The next time someone or something tries to get in your way to crush your goals, football or otherwise, forget about them and remember how powerful you really are.”
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