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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Nicol

Identity - tackling one of football's most pressing issues

Updated: Jan 20, 2022

This month we spoke with the i newspaper Sport about the work we are doing with clubs on identity. Both Fraser Franks and Leigh Nicol spoke about their own experiences in the interview with Sam Cunningham.

Fraser Franks: “I was completely lost ... Football was my only real interest. I was obsessed. I didn’t play any other sports, didn’t have any other hobbies, didn’t speak to many people in different industries and most of my friends were in the football world ... “I cannot imagine just how hard it is, and will be, for this generation with TikTok skills videos, Instagram accounts from age eight and Rising Ballers accounts showcasing the ‘next big thing’ for likes and views,”

Leigh Nicol: “It was around a month after the 2018-19 season when I was on holiday with my ‘football’ friends, that I found myself in a situation I had never experienced before,” Nicol says. “I had made the decision that I wasn’t going to return to the sport for the following season, the sport I had played since I could walk, that had imbedded discipline and ambition into me and gave me unique status in my hometown. ‘The football girl’ is what I was recognised as.

“I was in Marbella with a group of players from the Women’s Super League and found myself tagging along at the back of the group thinking, ‘I’m no longer as socially accepted as the others’. I became ashamed when the question made its way round to me: ‘What do you do?’.

“‘I’m just at university’ would be the answer I gave. I’ve never had any intention to go to university. I was no longer special; I was no longer ‘the football girl’ and I felt the effects. For the first time in my life I felt like I was just another human being and that hit me hard. Why do a lot of sports people feel that they can’t be just another human being?”

The article can be read here.

Later in the month we were fortunate to put that theory into practice with some hugely rewarding sessions with Norwich City's under 18 and under 23 squads. We were so very grateful to the players for being so open and engaging in a session that everyone took so much from.


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