Women's History Month


A playground full of Lionesses by Lotte Wubben-Moy

Lotte Wubben-Moy shares her Euro 2022 winners' medal with a supporter at Emirates Stadium

After winning the Euros with the Lionesses, Lotte Wubben-Moy knew that more needed to be done in order to secure a sporting legacy for young girls in the UK. 

Lotte and her fellow Lionesses wrote to the UK government asking to improve opportunities for girls to play football at school and this International Women's Day, the government has pledged that all schoolgirls will have equal access to football and sport. 

Here is Lotte's open letter, reflecting on this achievement and what it means for the future:

When I was seven I would walk in the door from school and immediately leave again to go and play football in the street. I would simply shout downstairs to my mum that I was off out to play and fly out the door. She knew where I was, two streets over in our small neighbourhood in Bow. I would always return a couple of hours later, five friends and two grazed knees the richer.

I look back and can’t help but think how lucky I was to have found my place growing up. Football was part of my identity, it helped me find a clear path in one of the biggest cities in the world. I think I’d have been pretty lost without it. I learnt so much about the complexities of modern society and of the person I would become, during those games in the streets. The jostling for who would play in goal, what was defined as a foul (and what often wasn’t), and the fighting for my place. I grew in confidence and motivation to constantly improve and it was incredibly empowering to hold my own against all the boys (not that I would have ever considered that at the time).

I do however remember thinking ‘all the other girls in the local area are crazy not to join in playing with us. I couldn’t understand it. Why didn’t they want to earn the respect of other local kids our age? Or have the chance to make friends with kids from all over the area? In hindsight, I am sure many girls would have walked past us wishing they had the confidence to play along too.

Stories of battling to play reverberate around our Lionesses changing room: from playing in boys' teams to starting up our own teams, to travelling continents to find adequate girls' coaching, this was an experience many of us have lived and a battle we have all fought. It has shaped us, but we want better for the future.

Football has given me so much and I feel indebted to ensure it gives as much, if not more, to others. And that is exactly why we 23-Lionesses put pen to paper, writing to the Prime Minister in demand of equality. We were determined to ensure every young girl across the nation has equal access to football when they go to school. To ensure that our European Championship win could leave a legacy past last summer’s blurry few days of celebration and hoarsely singing "It's coming home" in Trafalgar square.

I never for one moment thought it was possible to become a professional footballer all those years ago. No sooner would I have believed you if you’d said I’d be writing letters to the Prime Minister. But I’m part of a generation who knows no end to our dreams. We dreamt of becoming European champions. We harbour dreams for this summer’s World Cup. And we also dream of a time when girls watch the WSL on a Sunday afternoon and run into school on a Monday morning ready for their shooting drills, emulating their heroes, dreaming themselves, and dreaming with no limits.

This is another victory we now believe we have achieved. And perhaps it will grow to become our greatest ever victory. We will do everything in our power to ensure that this is the case.

As I grew up the street was traded for real pitches. The football teams I was part of moved predominantly outside of the M25. This meant that the once-post-school run around the corner was replaced by an ever-growing dependence on my privilege; my mum would drive me to training three or four times a week, often taking along other girls from the local area with us. We could afford the many and frequent team payments, new boots, and match fees. And most importantly I always had my parents’ full support.

But I know there will be so many girls out there who are not so lucky. Having witnessed it first hand, I know this necessity to travel has already ended so many young players’ careers in London and perhaps stopped many more from ever beginning. This is one of the reasons I so strongly believe in the need for girls’ football at every school across the nation.

Our letter and lobbying reached the ears of those most powerful within the country. As of today's news from Number 10, millions of girls in schools across the nation will now finally have equal access to football at school. They will be able to do what their male classmates have been able to do for years: play football at school.

Picture a playground full of young girls kicking footballs around in London and pick out a future Lauren James. A playground in Cumbria, pick out that future Georgia Stanway. A playground in Wigan, who is the future Ella Toone? Imagine how many future Lionesses you could pick out in every playground across the nation with every school now offering equal access to football.

Well, that is now the reality the Lionesses squad of 2022 dreamt of. But the victory is so much greater than that, because many don’t play football dreaming of a professional career. It's the camaraderie, the adrenaline, and the endorphins that I felt as a young girl. It is the teamwork, the social networking, and the lifelong friends made on the pitch. It is the beautiful game, that I know so well.

By making girls' football more accessible, we have opened a crucial door for the growth of women’s football as a whole. And if we want to look at our Lionesses and see a team that represents the whole nation, I believe this is one among many key steps to ensuring our national team becomes more diverse, stronger, and more successful many years into the future.

Long live street football. I’ll forever be indebted.

Let Girls Play,



A letter from Lia Walti for Women's History Month

Lia Walti claps supporters at Emirates Stadium

On the final day of Women’s History Month, here is a letter from Lia Walti. 

In her own words, Lia talks about the importance of visibility, being a role model and the key to chasing your dream.

Visibility is everything. In this world, it’s so hard to be what you can’t see.

When I think back to my childhood, I have a lot of special memories of football, but it’s also quite sad to think that I didn’t have someone to look up to in the sport; someone who inspired me or who I could aspire to be.

There were generations of women’s footballers who obviously took all the small steps for us to get to where we are today, but they had to start so far back and all too often their stories were never told. Even on the rare occasion that it did appear in a newspaper, it was always the smallest printed story in the sports section.

I think the first time I could say I genuinely looked up to a women’s footballer was when I started to be involved with the national team aged 16. The reason why? It’s simple, I finally had the chance to get to know the players. At the start, it was only the players in the Swiss national team, but after a few more caps, I had the chance to analyse some other teams and I started watching women’s football more because it became accessible to me.

Lia Walti playing for the youth Swiss team

It was like I’d entered a whole new world because suddenly there were all these talented players that I’d never heard about before. Players like Marta were the only real exception. She was such an important figure for so many footballers of my generation because she was one of the only names that people actually knew.

We spoke about this a lot in Switzerland when we really tried to bring women’s football forward. We always said that you need to bring women’s football to the people, you can’t just expect people to go there themselves. Everybody tries to give responsibility to someone else, but if you put it on TV, people are going to watch it, and when people get to know the players, they become invested.

That’s when you create a supporter who wants to come and watch the games and buy a shirt for their favourite player. TV stations and the media have always had such an important role to play in the growth of the game.

For me and so many other players, we had to be the change that we wanted to see. Because of the previous generations, we were in a privileged situation where a lot of battles had already been fought and a lot of things were already in place, but the real push and action to actually make things visible wasn’t there yet, and I think that’s something that’s finally come with our generation.

I feel really privileged to have experienced both sides, when we weren’t being shown on TV and only had 100 people coming to the game, compared to now where we’re playing in front of sold-out crowds and big stadiums on BT Sport and Sky. It’s really nice to have seen both sides, but I also think that there’s still so much work to be done and that future generations will also have to fight for their next steps.

I just really hope that we never forget the work and sacrifice made by previous generations because we’ve all had a role to play in this.

To be honest, with the speed at which a lot of this growth has happened, some of it still really catches me by surprise. As someone who grew up without a role model in the women’s game, I find it incredible that I’m now considered that person for a lot of young supporters.

It’s funny to me because in myself I’m still just a normal person - we all are! But now that we’re doing something which is accessible for a lot of people to watch, it’s very easy to forget how much responsibility you actually have for what you’re doing on and off the pitch. But I personally find it really nice because I think it can affect young kids in a really, really positive way.

To have that opportunity to both show on the pitch what you can do and what your strengths are, then also show off the pitch how you can reach that by sharing your story, that’s something I find really nice. I love to have those conversations with young kids so that they can ask all the questions they want about how to one day be where we are, or just how to follow their dreams.

Lia Walti and Stina Blackstenius line up with mascots for Champions League quarter-final

Women’s History Month is so important for so many reasons to me. Not only because it’s a celebration of what women have achieved over history and in society, but also because more generally, it’s 2023 and every day we still have to speak about the different areas of women being disadvantaged compared to men.

Sport is an area where that can be easily highlighted. That’s why it’s so important for me to try and be a role model and to try and push the boundaries of football to make it better for future generations, and sadly I think every woman in their own category has had to do that one way or another.

We’ve seen what an incredible impact some of these changes have had on the world and that’s what keeps me so motivated to keep fighting and talking about moments like Women’s History Month.

So, to any young Gooners and girls out there, my message is simple; don’t be scared to dream. Take small steps, one at a time, and don’t look too forward. Don’t lose your smile and make sure that your happiness and enjoyment is right at the heart of your dreams.

If it’s what you really want, fight for it and work as hard as you possibly can, because you can do it.

Lia Walti playing football as a teenager

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