Eartha : It was round about 9 when I started playing football with the boys in the playground. They didn’t want me to play and I’m not one to take orders so, I was the nuisance in the middle of the game running around like a headless chicken. This was only after I had enough of my stint of being picked only to stand in goal being blasted at. After a while I earned my stripes as I could consistently perform a rainbow flick and put it about strength wise with the boys. I went from goalkeeper pick to key player in a matter of months, which was enhanced by regular features on local boys teams and regular 60 seconds or World Cup games on the notorious Commassie Road using the painted on goal lines and avoiding the obstacles of pavements & parked cars.
My family are very creative & talented, sporting wise and musically. My dad was decent with a ball and kicked about with the local lads, which I’m assuming I where I got it from as my mum has no evidence of sporting excellence (although she talks as if she did). My older brother was the fastest runner in the borough, which was hindered by a hernia. Which funnily enough all my older siblings have, so maybe it skipped me for a reason as my sister below me also had a hernia! All my brothers are very competent with a ball at their feet, but their overriding talent has been with the use of a mic. They are good with a ball, but exceptional with words an a mic (check them out: Darkcide Isotopes / Ratlin).
Eartha : Well I know it too well because as an individual I have not changed much personality wise. I am a very shy person believe it or not, so I tend to let my ability do all the talking for me. I remember making that long journey from Westbourne Park to Arsenal station alone at the age of 12. Arrived feeling a little anxious but at the same time excited to get a ball at my feet and demonstrate my ability. I remember being very comfortable fitting in ability wise and was able to express my skills during the drills/games. I remember scoring two goals during the matches, but my most memorable one was where I got the ball out on the right wing and dribbled through the whole team demonstrating several dribbling tricks on route. I finished off with a great strike bottom right hand conner leaving the goalkeeper no chance (who was actually Vic Akers – Former Arsenal Ladies manager). Ever since then I make it my mission when starting a new club, to make sure I score two goals at my first training session.
Q : How many clubs have I played for?
….wow I’ve lost count. Let’s count:
1) Arsenal Ladies
2) Chelsea Ladies
3) Charlton Athletic Women
4) Leeds United
5) Buffalo Flash (Now known as Western New York Flash)
6) Birmingham City Ladies
7) Barnet Ladies
8) Queens Park Rangers Ladies
9) Everton Ladies
So I make that nine teams altogether that I have represented so far.
Q : Can you tell us how you got into Handball and who you’ve played for?
Eartha : Handball is a weird one, as I remember when they first started their talent ID for player 3/4 years ago my boss mentioned it to me. He asked if I had herd of the sport and after a brief explanation I kind of turned my nose up at it and said no thanks football is too good to waste time playing this new sport.
Only after returning from China captaining GB Women’s Football team at the World University Games (mini Olympics), did I have the urge to experience once again that great village atmosphere and buzz but this time at London 2012. So I thought of sports I might qualify in within the 9/10 month time frame before the games where i could make an impact in that sport. Then I thought BINGO Handball were looking for players a few years ago, I’ll look into this route. Done a little bit of research and ended up at Ruislip Eagles, who are National Champions and the team to beat in England. Due to playing 11-aside/5-aside football I found the fitness and movement around the court easy, hand-eye coordination is also above average. After one training session staff/players were keen for me to sign and become part of the team, which I did. Unfortunately the games came just too early for me to make the GB Squad, but watch out for Rio 2016 definitely a goal/possibility!
Q : What’s your opinion on the promotion of the women’s game from the F.A and could they do more considering they only put £2 million pounds into the WSL ( Women’s Super League)?
Eartha : The promotion of the women’s game has come a long way and continues to improve (slowly but surely). I think they need to demand more backing from male counterparts, therefore being affiliated/support female teams like they do with their male youth team systems. The FA need to be firm on key attributes needed to ensure the women can express themselves and play at the highest level, respecting their dedication which is parallel to their male professionals with 0.0001 similarity in financial gain.
Key aspects such as:
1- Grounds (State of pitches and improved minimum standard of quality, use Bristol Academy Women as a great example to follow)
2- Officials (The standard of officials is not good enough, they lack consistency in what constitutes a foul/booking depending on what part of the England your playing in. Also their decision making is regularly embarrassing, often leaving the forth official having to agree with frustrated coaching staff/managers).
Eartha : Fortunately I have never encountered racism whilst playing football, but if I did I’d hope I would let my ability do the talking.
Eartha : For sure my week is ridiculously hectic and downtime is hard to find. Its usually a Friday evening and any spare evening in the week that I get home before 9pm (which is not often). Music or a good old skool film is perfectly fine for me, not a soaps person or a party goer to be fair! #nightinnotnightout
Eartha : The USA was an amazing experience and I would love to return there (sooner rather than later). There professionalism towards female sportswoman is light years ahead of the UK. Technically players in the UK are slightly ahead in my opinion, but conditioning wise the US are ahead so it balances things out. Due to so much opportunity and seriousness to achieve excellence and providing the facilities to do so, I would recommend any female footballer to head to the US to play.
Q : How did you think Team GB Women’s done at the London 2012 Olympics?
Eartha : They never hindered the perception that people had of the women’s game, they actually impressed a large number of our population. I went to the game vs Brazil at Wembley and to see over 70,000 people and to not actually be sitting pitch side and choosing any seat in the ground as there’s only a few of us watching was mind blowing! Seeing was believing……
3)E.Pond (player manager)
Eartha : I have played Futsal and I think is a brilliant game, especially with basic attributes such as control, movement and reading the game. It promotes communication which is essential and players ability to express themselves is encouraged.
Eartha : As a left back in the women’s game, when I begun playing the best player in my position was Sisi of Brazil. Therefore that’s who I inspired to perform like and emulate. I would encourage girls to:
– Make sure they have a good level of strength/aerobic fitness
– Practice dribbling/ control on the ball
– Watch male counterparts on programmes such as MOTD, what they do well/what can they improve on.
In regards to fining a club TheFA.com has great links as well as websites like SheKicks.net & Women’s soccer scene.
Eartha : Make sure all my lessons are planned for school and complete any admin work outstanding whilst I have the time to on my weekend off (which doesn’t happen often).