I have known Carly for some time now and from the first meeting she has been very supportive and passionate about women’s sport, as well as the promotionof women’s sport. So it was only fitting that she should grace the cover and is the feature athlete in this first edition.
Her enthusiasm for the game and her desire to play is infectious. You come away from spending time with her very aware of her determination, professionalism
and genuine humility. She has risen from watching Sunday football with her dad to being on a central contract with the FA (Football Association) representing
England and playing domestic football for Chelsea, all whilst keeping her feet firmly on the ground.
Despite her hectic schedule, Carly really wanted to be involved and so found time for this shoot a couple of days before she flew out to Australia to
play there in the English off season - once again showing her desire to promote the game she so loves.
Carly, thank you for your time again today. Our last photo-shoot was at the Chelsea training ground in Cobham - that was far more hectic than this one!
How did you enjoy it?
It’s alright, ah, this is far better. The girls were heckling and popping in to see what was going on! This is much better, but I’m not a model so I’m
glad it’s done!
So tell us about how you got into football, was it your first sport or were you playing something else first?
No, it was my first sport that I played. I, like a lot of girls went to football with my dad, Saturday/Sunday league as me mam was working. The kids used
to play together and then at school I started to play football with the boys. I was a tomboy at heart so I had no problem getting stuck in and getting
muddy. I was captain of the primary school team, I was the away captain and another boy was the home captain. From there I was picked up by a girls’ team
playing under 13’s.
Were you always a goalkeeper then or how did you find your niche?
It’s a funny story really. Mum said “it’s a freezing cold day” and put a Sunderland goalkeeper’s top on me to keep me warm - I don’t support Sunderland.
Anyway I turned up and the lady said “do you play in goal?” and I said “not really, but I will give it a go if it means that I get to play football”. That
year we won everything, the league, player of the year and manager’s player of the year! From there it just escalated…
What was the progression from there to Chelsea?
I played county and then I was also picked up by the Sunderland FC academy and at 15 played first team, I then played under 17’s, under 19’s for England.
I moved to Loughborough to study and so went to play for Leeds. Then a new super league was formed and Leeds didn’t make it in, so me and all the girls
that wanted to play WSL (Women’s Super League) needed to find somewhere else to play. I was picked up by Chelsea and so I ended up down south.
You are off to Australia for the winter season, how did that happen, tell us all?
I am, yes. That was a very recent thing. A lot of the girls go and play in the leagues in the winter in America, Australia etc. as they don’t clash with
Being on a contract I needed to check with Hope (England manager) regarding fixtures and being away. I was very lucky that she said it would be good for
me to get game time and experience. The last few seasons I have ended up injured at the end of the season. I dislocated my shoulder and well, the last
three seasons I haven’t finished - so to be fit at the end of the season is key. For me it’s fantastic to be somewhere else, branching out and to be playing
at that high standard will push me and give me game time and experience to bring back to England.
Do you know anything about what you are heading into?
Not really and that is part of the excitement. I know some of the girls that are going over but they won’t be playing with me. I don’t know how the teams
play or train compared to us. The funny thing is I was sent the training schedule and in it there are lots of slots marked “celebration”, now I’m hoping
that’s what I think it is and not code for hard-core training!
You mentioned that you get injured a lot, what happens with you when this happens and do you get looked after?
Oh yeah, things are so much better than a few years ago. Even this year things have improved again, Chelsea have been fantastic, we can now get to use
the 1st team facilities and get to be seen and use any equipment the medical support team at Chelsea have. The BOA and the FA have really helped with private
medical cover, so for example I was seen within days by a top surgeon regarding my shoulder. He has operated on both my shoulders and then I get all the
rehab as well. This would be unheard of a few years ago; we would have had to go through the NHS system. I’m so well looked after now, it’s fantastic and
the girls really appreciate it. Sometimes you don’t know where the help is going to come from and this isn’t the case with Chelsea, so good.
This has been a long journey to get to this point though and from my experience there are still women’s sports where this level of support isn’t available
to senior players.
With the central contracts now we are getting a lot of support not just for now but our futures as well. We are never going to earn the same money as
our male counterparts so we have no savings to retire on at the end of our careers. So the FA are helping us with this, I am busy doing my coaching certificates
at the moment.
Also the PFA have classed us as professional, so anyone at the senior level will now be looked after. Hope has pushed a lot through and this has really
helped to open people’s eyes.
We just want the opportunity to play for a living rather than part time. We aren’t wanting loads of money or to earn the money the guys do, we just want
to get game time, be focused only on football and play.
Thanks Carly and good luck in Oz!