"I didn’t see a future so
As part of Black History Month, we are spotlighting individuals working in grassroots football across London. Today, we are showcasing Equal Games Ambassador Shani Glover as she talks about why she quit football, how she found her way back to the game and why representation matters.
"I quit football at 13! I walked away from the game for a number of reasons. Firstly, I didn’t see a future for women players; I didn’t see players who looked like me in the media, and no-one prepared me for the changes to my body and how I would feel running around in shorts. I wish I could go back and tell that younger version of myself to keep going; I would tell her- that it will get better and sticking in the game will be worth it! If only we had a time machine; sadly, I don’t, but I do have a voice and thankfully a small platform to encourage girls to keep playing. I often say to people I wear many hats, I am an Equal Game Ambassador, an Assistant Headteacher and I sit on the board for Impact FC (grassroots football team). I use my experiences and regrets to encourage girls to keep playing. At 22, I learnt that it’s never too late to put your boots on and start playing again.
"As an educator I think representation matters! I think it is important that young people see themselves in the stories they read, the jobs they aspire to have and in the media they watch. Having learnt about players like Eni Aluko, Alex Scott and Anita Asante in my adult life it is important that I teach my little girl and other children the names of black female footballers. It is important to me that my little girl grows up knowing players like Rebecca Spencer, Jade Bailey, Lauren James and Jess Carter; to name a few, the list is so much longer! That list does not take away from the many other players from all different backgrounds, but as I mentioned before representation does matter and seeing people who look like you helps to ignite and reminds people to dream but not only dream, believe that their dreams can come true.
Jade Bailey (right) won the Women's Championship with Liverpool in 2022
"I think it is important that the London FA celebrates Black History Month as it is another opportunity to help shine a light on incredible role models within the black community. It is an opportunity to educate others, inspire the new generation and bring about change. Collaboration is very powerful, the LFA and other similar organisations could use their platforms to bring people together. We can use our social media platforms to shine a light on positive role models, we can collaborate with each other and organise events, tournaments and CPD's. Whilst Black History Month is in October (in the UK) it is important that we celebrate our diversity all year. The girls and womens game is changing, we have the opportunity to inspire the up and coming generation and keep more girls playing. Representation matters and it is important that we show diversity throughout football from grassroots to WSL, from players to coaches and all the other roles and opportunities within the world of football!"