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💬 Why we play: Exeter City Women

10 August 2021

The launch theme of this Seasons FA Women’s National League is “Why We Play.” Over the past eighteen months, with restrictions on grassroots football being so prominent, that question has perhaps been in the thoughts of so many who play the game.

Not being able to do the things we love certainly offers a moment of reflection. Three players of the Women’s Team at Exeter City have been offering their thoughts on why they play and why their affection for the game is so strong.

Esme Kilburn-Thompson

I am so proud to be part of Exeter City Football Club. I started my journey with the under twelves when I was selected to be part of the Girls Development Centre. I had tried many other sports but football was the one I wanted to do. Being in the Girls Academy as an 11 year old was an amazing experience, I looked up to the older players we saw at training in awe. I remember when the team had an important match at St James Park and the Academy players were invited to be a part of the parade at half time, it was to celebrate girls and women in football. That was a proud day, to walk around the stadium and be applauded by the supporters. I knew then that I wanted to work hard and try to be the best player I could and be part of the Women’s team.

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My journey continued, I loved training and the matches we had within the under twelves and under sixteens were great, it was like being part of a bigger family. I knew that the coaches always wanted the best for me and supported what I wanted to achieve. I was delighted when my coach, Abbie Britton, invited me to the Women’s training sessions. It was never too much. The players always encouraged me and made me feel welcome, nothing was too much hassle for them.

Despite a strange year it has been a memorable season for me. I have started matches, been voted the player of the month in November and scored twice in the Devon County Cup Final. I am now part of the team of Women who I looked up to and was inspired by when I was 11 years old.

My journey continues. My passion is constant and I want to keep working hard to be a part of this inspiring team and club that has given me football, friendship and shown me what hard work can achieve. I hope that one day I will be a role model for many other young female footballers. That is why I play.

Zoe Watkins

Football is the beautiful game. It is a game that uses the feet, but challenges the heart with a subtle mix of inclusion and passion. It’s inclusivity shines through the fact that it’s a universal sport that transcends difference.

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You can go to any corner of the earth and no matter how great the cultural differences, common ground can be found in the beautiful game. We play for reasons that drive togetherness and also for reasons that promote individualism. Football has taught me that where there is effort and desire, regardless of ability, anything is possible. That is why I play.

Manfy Sharpe

Football is my happy place. It is where I can go and anything I am worried about goes away, it is where I feel at home. It is a place for me where the people support one another in every sense of the word and to be a part of that is something special. The unbelievable feeling of united hard work, commitment and dedication from a team of people who all want the same success is something that I will always want to be part of. That is why I play.

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