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As female players, the life expectancy in our game is probably ten years. Some of us get distracted with dating, marriage, having children, and other such things. Also, as athletes, we are prone to injury and general wear and tear.
When I reached the age of thirty, I realised that I had been inducted into a club that I did not really want to be a member of. I reluctantly received my membership card during a game at half-time. I was approached by one of the players on the other team, “You used to play with my mum”, she said to me, smiling. I looked at her hard, examining the possible truth in her words. I believed that this was a genuine, kind smile. I realised that I did know this player. However, the last time that I had seen her she was not the tough tackling, nineteen year old midfielder that stood before me. I remembered her as a sweet, rosey-cheeked five year old.
I looked across the field, and sure enough, there was the, now rounded, figure of my ex-team mate. She was waving at me, looking very much like a player’s mum.
Before you know it, there it is, your membership card.
What happens to our players when they reach the end of their careers? What do we do with them?
I was thirty-one when I went for a trial with a club who eventually did not sign me, I was told that it was due to my age. I then went to another club, who did sign me with a view to making me a player-coach. The decision was made with foresight and consideration to what I could offer the club’s younger players.
More and more females are being encouraged to take the coaching path, and get involved behind the scenes of our game. This is a smart move. If anything, as a player, you want to believe that your coach can relate to you.
As I was paying for my stamps in the local post office, taking a sad look at my leg brace which was helping to hold my knee ligaments together, the lady behind the counter asked me how I had injured my leg. I explained my ruptured knee ligament sob story.
She then began to tell me that she used to play in the 1970’s, and that she had attended a trial for Chelsea Ladies. Now, this was an ordinary looking middle-aged woman. I asked her whether she would be interested in getting involved in the game again. Immediately, I could sense her lack of confidence.
She did not seem to know that she had helped pave the way for us, that she was a role-model.
Yes, she was chubby and looked physically out of shape. But, she still had knowledge and experience that she could give. Instead, she was hidden away in the flowery blouse and skirt of post-game life.
Another of yesteryear’s players.
This Article Was Published in Women’s Soccer Scene magazine