We should be cheering on female footie stars in the same way we support the men


I THOUGHT I was the only girl in the world who played football.

Aged eight, I shaved off my hair and used the name Ray so I could play in a boys’ team.

England’s Ella Toone takes a selfie after England's Lionesses' Euro final victory

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England’s Ella Toone takes a selfie after England’s Lionesses’ Euro final victoryCredit: EPA
As a child, ex-England star Rachel Yankey shaved off her hair and used the name Ray so she could play in a boys’ team

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As a child, ex-England star Rachel Yankey shaved off her hair and used the name Ray so she could play in a boys’ teamCredit: Getty

Team-mates didn’t care. They liked me because I could help them win.

When my identity was discovered, I had to stop playing. I was gutted.

Now as the Lionesses’ roar is heard around the nation, I hope no girl has to go through that.

Seeing our team makes me extremely proud and at last youngsters have female role models.

If I saw that growing up, I would have known it was possible to be a professional footballer.

Playing for Arsenal and England, I had a full-time job and considered the sport as my hobby.

Now young girls will know they have the same opportunity as the boys.

But we need better attendances, more funding, better pitches and more coverage. If we stop talking about our female stars then this is an unsuccessful tournament.

These women are role models. We should be cheering on our women’s teams in the same way we support the men.

If we don’t, their efforts have all been nothing.





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