iCanPlay: Rachel Foster Q&A
Tell us about how and why you got involved in playing women’s football?
A friend told me that a group of ladies at Clifford were meeting on a Saturday to learn to play football and I should give it a go because it was a great way to keep fit.
I protested and said I’d never kicked a football before, but she promised me we were all as novice as each other.
What do you enjoy about playing women’s football at Clifford in the West Riding Women’s Beginner League?
First and foremost, we are a group of middle-aged women that come in all shapes and sizes and most have never played football before, until two and a half years ago.
It’s great fun with like-minded women who I otherwise wouldn’t have known.
Football kept us sane when we could train through Covid.
It’s also a great way to keep fit without really thinking about it.
It’s hard to believe that we struggled to kick a ball in a straight line not that long ago, we’ve achieved so much.
Grassroots football survives on volunteers and without our managers Andrea and Shiv and Coaches Robert, Paul and Glenn giving up their time and putting in so much effort, none of this would have happened.
Now we have our own Women’s Beginner League set up by the West Riding FA.
We have regular matches on a Sunday on a beautiful 3G pitch in Pontefract.
What is your experience of playing in the Women’s Beginner League like?
It’s wonderful having our own beginners league.
We get to play regular nine-a-side matches, which gives us an aim and plenty to work on in training.
We are always striving to improve and get better.
All the teams are friendly and of course its mandatory to have a post-match analysis in the pub on the way home.
I look forwards to our Sunday afternoons all week which are expertly organised by Steve Conboy at West Riding FA.
What are your goals for the future in football?
My goals are just to keep improving and having fun.
Maybe learn some fancy skills.
I’ve completed The BT Playmaker by England Football and I’m considering doing my Level 1.
What are the biggest obstacles you have faced in playing women’s football and how have you managed to overcome them?
I’ve not really faced obstacles but its such shame that it took until I was 47 years old to find a team sport I really enjoy.
Girls weren’t allowed to play football at my school, there was no women’s football on the television, and I didn’t know any female players.
The pathway is easier for girls now, with most clubs having a girls’ team and the WSL regularly on television as well as so many skilled female players coming through the system.
Hopefully the women’s game will just keep growing.
Who’s had the biggest influence on you as a footballer and why?
My biggest influence would be my daughter Lucy.
From the age of 10 she’s been totally committed to her football, training and playing in all weathers and very rarely sick or sorry.
She’s played for two girl’s teams, now playing up an age group.
She organised a girls’ team at primary school for a gala when there wasn’t one.
At 15 she completed her young referee’s qualification and referees in the Women’s Beginner League on a Sunday, in her purple shirt.
She also helps her dad coach a group of Under 9’s in Leeds.
Over the years I watched her play, improve, have fun, make friends, and learn many life skills through football.
What advice would you give to people thinking about getting involved in playing women’s football, in particular the Women’s Beginner League like you?
Just do it, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!