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The Comedy of Errors

Interview: Amy White, Nottingham Forest Ladies

19 February 15 interview: Lucy Manning
photos: Raluca Moraru

Amy White, Midfielder for Nottingham Forest Ladies FC, was scouted by Forest as a nipper. Seemingly unable to sit still, the 23-year-old holds down a full-time job, plays professional football and somehow manages to fit in coaching and a social life. Currently out with an injury, we chatted to her about her love of the beautiful game...

You started playing for Forest when you were eight, how did you get involved?
I started playing football when I was six – I have two older brothers, so my sister and I would watch them play. We wanted to join in but there were no girls’ teams, so we played for our local boys’ team. We got picked up and scouted by Forest, and then later on played at the Notts County Centre of Excellence until we were sixteen.

How was it playing for a boys’ team?
Funny. Other teams would be like, “Err, you’ve got girls on your team...” It wasn’t really the seen thing – going back fifteen years, the game wasn’t as developed as it is now. I think it made me a better player: I wasn’t scared of tackling and I wasn’t scared of boys.

You’re currently employed as the Communication and Media Lead for Nottingham Forest in the Community, how did you find yourself in the role?
I did Broadcast Journalism at university, but got told I was too nice to be a journalist and should go into PR. I took it as a compliment. I went over to the States for a year, and when I came back I wanted to work with a club, and I’ve been involved with Forest for years so it was the perfect fit.

What did you do over in America?
I was in Portland, Maine, on the East Coast. I worked full-time for an English company based over there, doing communications and marketing. I was a full-time coach as well in the evenings, and played semi-pro football. It was a seven day week for just under a year.

You play on the same team as your twin sister. What’s that like?
I love it. The beginning of the season was the first time we’ve been on the same pitch for two years because I was away and she was injured. It was great – then I got injured. We’ve had the same injury, on the same knee, had to have the same reconstructive surgery – we even had the same surgeon. Pretty weird twin stuff. 

You’re 23 and you’ve been an Account Manager, Communications Manager, a coach, got a degree and played professional football. How do you fit it all in?
I’m just used to a busy lifestyle, I’d rather be pushing myself. I got the Account Manager position in my final year of university, so I was doing my finals and working full-time. I believe that if you work hard, you’ll get the rewards for it.

Women’s football is rapidly growing in popularity; games are being broadcast on telly and there’s full online coverage on BBC sport. How do you see the game growing in the future?
I see it continually growing - getting more media coverage and support. The Women’s Super League (WSL) has really kick-started the professionalism of the game.

Why do you think it is that Forest haven’t seen the same success as other local teams?
We bid for the WSL but we didn’t get it and it’s had a knock-on effect – without the extra funding it’s hard to progress. We’ve done well in our own right but we’re always looking to push forward. We’ll get there one day.

A lot of players that have come through Forest now play for Super League teams…
We had Sophie Bradley, she now plays for England and County. Reanne and Lyndsey are two that have gone on to Doncaster Belles. And Lauren Cresswell. We produce really good players and it’s sad to see them go. We’ve become a feeder for local WSL teams in a way.

Women still have to pay to play…
Yeah, if we don’t have sponsors we have to pay to play. I’m fortunate in that I have a sponsor so I don’t pay anything, but it highlights the fact that we play because we love it.

Do you think there’ll be a day when women are paid the same as men in football?
I don’t think we’ll ever be paid the same purely because the money in the men’s game is phenomenal. I think there’ll come a day when the professional woman won’t have to have a part-time job to sustain her football career. They’ll just be footballers, and that will be it.

In 2004 FIFA president Sepp Blatter said, “Female footballers should wear tighter shorts and low cut shirts… to create a more female aesthetic and attract more male fans.” How do you feel about this? Is this level of sexism still present in the game?
That was eleven years ago now. I feel it’s progressed since then – as time goes on, stereotypes are being broken down and things are becoming less of a problem. It’s becoming more about the game, which is a good thing.

The Forest kit is sponsored by the No More Page 3 campaign, sporting the hashtag #kiton. Have you been active in the campaign at all?
We’re wearing the kit to showcase that we support what they’re looking for. They’re trying to get a message across that we [women] should have equal rights. We all want equality in sport, life and everything that comes with it.

You travelled the world as part of the 2014 World Cup, how did you get involved?
I worked for a sports PR company who held the contract for Vauxhall and who sponsor the four home nations, and I led the account for the Northern Ireland sponsor. I went to Amsterdam, Portugal, Russia, Malta and Belfast doing PR and managing social media for the company. Basically, I got to have a good time watching football and be a VIP. I had a police escort with the ambassadors – it was crazy.

As a team, you do a lot of work for the community. Tell us a bit about the work you’re doing with UoN and Stonewall…
We supported the Rainbow Laces campaign to raise awareness about homophobia in football. I went to a conference for the LGBT equality movement within sport, and Stonewall were there talking about the campaign as a whole. It’s really starting to kick off. For us, it’s all about supporting the need for equality within the game – homophobia can sadly be a part of it, and it needs to be stamped out.

So, what’s next?
I’m itching to tick off some more bucket list stuff, so I’m hoping to go and coach in Ghana with Forest later this year. We’ve had difficulty – what with the Ebola situation – so we’re waiting to hear if we can go. If we can’t, I’ve got a friend who’s got a charity out there called Start Small, so I’ll do some work through them.

Nottingham Forest Ladies FC will be playing at home against Newcastle United WFC on Sunday 22 February 2015.

Nottingham Forest Ladies website

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