Celebrating inspirational girls in sport
Image: Maddison Stanbury: u21 squad for Arsenal WFC as a GK
Celebrating inspirational girls in sport
To help celebrate International Women’s Day this year, we wanted to help inspire girls to take up grassroots’ sport. Playing team sports, at any level, is so beneficial to build self-confidence, social skills and of course maintain a healthy lifestyle into adulthood. With so many of the younger generation becoming increasingly addicted to their digital devices, we as a company are passionate about encouraging children from all backgrounds to play sport.
We thought what better way to help commemorate #IWD2023, and empower girls around the world, than with a story very close to our heart.
This is the inspirational story of one of our very first Laceeze Brand Ambassadors, Maddison Stanbury, who first featured on our social media profiles at the age of 10. Maddison was a huge fan of Laceeze bands. She comments; “Laceeze bands were always a lifesaver for me. Being in goal, with gloves on, laces coming undone was a nightmare to take gloves off and back on again during a match. During my grassroots playing time I wore them frequently!”
Maddison is currently signed as a Goal Keeper in the u21 squad for her dream team – Arsenal WFC. However her journey to become a professional footballer hasn’t always been easy as her incredible story reveals.
In an interview with our Founder, Emma Burke, Maddison gives us an insight into her football career so far and the challenges she has had to overcome along the way.
Q: Maddison, you started out as an outfield player, why did you change to become a Goal Keeper?
A: My grassroots team goalie wanted to go on pitch and the manager was looking for a replacement, my stepdad at the time was a goalkeeper so I thought I’d give it a go. I enjoyed the position so made the switch full time and started going to specialist goal keeper training to make sure I was able to develop as the skills needed to be a goal keeper are different to outfield players.
Q: How did you find attitudes toward you as a female player when you were in mixed sex teams?
A: There were times that I wasn’t passed the ball or trusted by my own teammates, opposition would think it would be easy to score past me and them make sly comments towards me. I’d hear opposition parents tell their sons not to worry as their GK was a girl. I also had times where opposition coaches would come over after the game and congratulate me on my performance but on the whole it was quite a negative experience, until I started playing and showed them what I was capable of.
Q: What have been your highest points to date?
A: I have a few! My first would be being subbed on for Southampton Woman FC to make my National League debut at the age of 16 and 5 weeks old. I didn’t expect it, I don’t think anyone expected it but what an amazing experience it was.
Secondly a highlight was being offered a contract playing for Arsenal, the club I support and have followed for years. Asked to trial for the U21’s and being offered the position was a dream come true.
Finally, the moment I received an email saying I had been added to the England U17’s long list. I was sat at Old Trafford, in the fan zone ahead of the Woman’s Euro’s opening game. Being part of the squad and then receiving my first call up in August was another massive highlight for me.
Q: What have been your lowest points to date?
A: This is a tough one but one that opened the door to other opportunities. I had been with a club for five years, progressing through the ages and then at U14’s I was released. At the time I was devastated, it took me a while to pick myself up and refocus. After that I needed a knee operation which was mentally hard to work through, but with the help of my amazing physios I got fit again, found two clubs to play for a season and after that, moved to St Albans to play for Arsenal. Had I not been released it’s highly possible I wouldn’t have got that opportunity to live my dream.
Q: What do you think about the rise in popularity of female football?
A: When I started playing there were very few girls’ teams and very few girls playing in a boys’ team. In fact, the grassroots club I was at only started girls’ football the year before I left. Now, when I look at all the FA schemes like wild cats it has a much greater focus. Since the Euros it’s grown massively, along with the reformat of the RTC’s to grow emerging talent centres - this now makes football much more accessible to many more girls. At games I see young girls going to watch with their families and greater attendance at WSL games. Still more to be done but what an amazing past few months for women and girls in football!
Q: What do you think is the main barrier for girls taking part in sport at a semi or professional level?
A: Firstly coverage, it’s improved hugely but until recently hardly any games were covered on TV and not publicised. Then the financial factor, it’s clear that the woman’s game isn’t able to pay woman’s footballers the way they pay the men, but it’s getting better. This means woman are technically dual career, meaning they need to work alongside their football commitments.
Q: Why do you think it’s so important for young girls to take up team sports?
A: Team sports offer so much more than fitness. I’ve developed as a person in many ways. Being a leader, growing confidence, having integrity, being honest with coaches and yourself, ownership of your actions and ownership of your development. Being part of a team means you support others, build up friendships. I have three close friends from my prior club who I’ve known since I was nine. Our football careers have taken us in different directions but we all meet up a few times a year. Those friendships will stay with me for life.
Q: What do you think still needs to change for girls / women in football?
A: I wouldn’t say anything needs to change as such but the developments made need to be continually worked on to improve coverage, awareness and of course give girls the same opportunities as boys. We are still a long way off but there are changes being made and that’s only a good thing which I hope will continue.
To follow Maddison’s ongoing success, follow her Twitter account @MaddsGK13