When you think about footballers, the names that come to mind are often the likes of Harry Kane, Gareth Bale and Mo Salah, not a 16-year-old young woman from Toddington.
Abbie Roberts, however, has already secured her place on the England Women’s Youth Team, and doesn’t plan to stop there. We were lucky enough to sit down with Abbie and ask her a few questions about how she got to where she is today, the benefits of studying football, and the progression of female footballers in the sporting industry.
1.) What’s it like to play for England Women’s Youth Team?
It’s an honour to represent my country, and I feel privileged with the opportunities and support The FA and the coaching staff have given me. I have also been lucky to share my experiences with players I have progressed through the system with, and to wear an England shirt has become the biggest achievement for my family and I. This year my team reached the semi-finals of the 2018 European Championships in Lithuania, and this will be an experience I will always remember. I am also proud of my personal achievement of wearing the Captains armband whilst progressing in the International set-up (under 15’s, 16’s and 17 youth teams).
2.) What are the most important things you’ve learnt from your football studies?
Studying physical education has helped me understand the importance of nutrition and exercise, and how these can contribute to training and performance. Sport psychology has also helped me develop resilience, coping with pressure leadership and being a valuable member of a cohesive team. Without this knowledge I wouldn’t of been able to manage my every day life, specifically when balancing out training, matches, camps and school commitments.
3.) What are the main challenges you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are today?
The growth of female football has become apparent as I’ve progressed through the system, and with the ongoing support and promotion I believe that the female game will continue to grow and more females will become involved. Balancing out school, training, socialising and work has become a difficulty, however, as the female game further develops hopefully this will become easier. Stereotyping may always exist, but with female football becoming the fastest growing sport, eventually this challenge will be faced every day!
4.) Do you think there is still prejudice against female footballers in the sporting industry?
The FA are continuing to promote the female game and it has become evident that more females are getting involved with either playing, coaching and/or spectating. Prejudice will always exist within sport regardless to what sport it is, however, with the recognition of the female standard and growth of support, the game is only moving in one direction.
5.) What would you say to any young women looking to study or get into football?
Do not allow any barriers to come between you and what you enjoy. Believe in your ability, and if football is your passion, go for it!
6.) How did you come to play for England Women’s Youth Team – what was the process and how did you find it? Take us through your football career!
My journey began at MK Dons Centre of Excellence when I was 11 years old. Due to my performance in our weekly fixtures I was invited to attend a Regional Talent Camp. There, I was selected to further attend the England Under 15’s Camp where I received specific training to meet the demands of the game. I was at MK Dons Centre of Excellence throughout the Youth pathway and as I reached the Under 16’s I was asked to step up and join the MK Dons Ladies squad. During my time at the Centre of Excellence I continued to attend England training and fixture Camps whilst representing my local club. I have just finished a very successful season with the Dons, winning the League and County Cup, and I aim to continue working hard for my upcoming season.
7.) What are your favourite things about playing for the Team?
The team cohesion and dynamics are important for any team to perform, and the squad I currently play with have become my best friends. Win, lose or draw, we stick together and overcome each challenge we may face. Representing my country has been my dream and having my friends alongside me has made it even more special.
8.) Why would you recommend studying BA Hons Football Studies?
If football is what you are passionate about and you want to pursue a career within the Industry, studying a BA Hons in Football Studies can help you develop the knowledge you need to progress. Football Studies can provide you with many pathways, including football business, media, coaching and/or performance. You don’t need to be able to play the game to be involved in it!