When FIFA 16 hits shelves around the world later this year, it will mark a big step forward in women’s football.
For the first time, gamers can pick 12 national women’s teams to play as and the cover will feature three famous female players alongside men’s superstar Lionel Messi following a public vote.
USA World Cup Winner Alex Morgan will be Messi’s partner in America, in Canada it will be Christine Sinclair and in Australia it is Stephanie Catley.
It shows the success of the recent Women’s World Cup at making the sport a game to be enjoyed in its own right, something the players of Clapham Kicks also agree with.
The team compete in the Greater London Women’s Football League and find time to play alongside jobs.
Ella, 22, a PR account executive, said: “We are a competitive side but we are also a club that are passionate about women’s football and we want to get as many people involved in the sport as possible.
“The girls are all really lovely and made me feel right at home straight away and I know they will do the same with any new member that joins.”
Venue manager, Liz Wilks, 29, joined the club a year ago and said: “Clapham Kicks to me is all about putting the effort in for 90 minutes enjoying playing football and having fun.
“We tend to go out after most training and match sessions and organise days or activity nights out.
“The Christmas social, secret Santa and the end of season awards social is always a highlight.
“We train, we have fun, play football and develop together as a team and support each other.”
Ella and Liz agree that positive changes in the way the sport is portrayed has helped encourage people to get involved.
Winger Ella thinks women’s football is much more respected by the opposite sex in particular since she began playing 14 years ago.
She said: “I still think there is a long way to go for certain positions such as goalkeepers who have a stigma attached to them, more than others, and women officials.”
Striker Liz added: “When I started playing football there weren’t that many ladies teams around, and no encouragement or positive attitudes were given to women playing football.
“Now we can watch women’s football on TV, read about teams and follow players in their development and even follow teams further afield in the US or Europe.”
Nonetheless, they are frustrated that women’s football seems to be put under scrutiny in a way that does not happen with other sports.
Ella said: “Few other women have to put up with like for like comparisons. Women sprinters are never compared to male sprinters.
“No-one watches a women’s 100m race in the Olympics and says ‘that was slow and boring.’”
Her thoughts are echoed by Liz who thinks the women’s game can be enjoyed on its own terms.
She said: “There are differences between the male and female games but that’s the interesting point of women’s football, you are seeing the game played differently, mentally and physically, and sometimes more technically.”
Clapham Kicks train on Wednesdays 7-8pm and Sundays 10-11.30am.
Feature image of Clapham Kicks in action