Let's take it back to the 90s. Croydon Women. Top flight team: triple league winners, double FA cup winners, with most notable alumni of England and Brighton's coach, Hope Powell. Not your average team to say the least.
Disbanding in 2000, with many players moving onto Charlton, it's not a reach to consider this an end to a huge era. That's until the 2019 reform, triggered by...a break-in at the Croydon FC clubhouse?
Not your usual motivator, however the consequential search search for missing items uncovered a host of trophies that had been won by the women’s team. If that's not a motivator to reform the club, then I don't know what is.
League champions, Croydon women play on the same pitch as the men- you'd think it's the bare minimum, but in a world of inequality in sporting, it's a step outside of the ordinary. On top of this, they're currently estabilishing a youth team, ensuring that more girls have access to playing. It's not just access to playing- it's access to friendship, to teamwork, to problem solving, for finding a release from everyday stresses.
[AOF] were lucky enough to get an insight into the experience of football shared by the women at Croydon FC.
Motivation, or sometimes lack of, it intrinsic to any sport. It comes as no surprise that a key motivator to showing up week in, week out, is the freedom of being on the pitch, the competition, the challenge and the camaraderie of a team.
We also were keen to know the earliest memories of football held by the team. For many, football is a seamless part of life since childhood, with team support likened to religion, and lacing up the boots as a mid-week ritual. The team came back as follows:
'My first memory of football is wearing my dad’s huge boots and shin pads around the house, pretending I was playing for Ireland.'
'Getting the ball booted at me by older brothers in the garden. Playing football with the boys in primary, as the only girl who played at the time.'
'My first memory of football was when I was 7/8 and leaving the girls group at lunch in school and asking to play football with the boys because I liked running around being active and played every lunch time with them from then and started after school and summer football.'
There's never been a better time to seek inspiration from women in football. With inspirations named as 'Lauren James, Russo, Sam Kerr, Katie McCabe, Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby, Rachel Yankey, [and] Kelly Smith', there's so much hope for future generations.
It's safe to say Croydon FC embody the idea of resilience.
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