What it Means to be a Female Football Fan: The Creative Legacy of the Women’s World Cup

Photography: Jack Bridgland / Interview & Words: Laura Khamis

The Women’s World Cup has already knocked down a considerable number of barriers in the way that the women’s game is portrayed and celebrated the world over. The tournament has not only provided a platform to highlight the progress of female football by the teams competing but also a bigger stage to celebrate a pivotal moment for all women, nationally and internationally. The Women’s World Cup itself continues to bring a sharper focus on the representation of female achievement and the momentum shows no sign of slowing. 


In the run up to the launch of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the likes of Little Simz, Lady Leshur and Ms Banks joined forces to celebrate key England women’s team members including captain Steph Houghton, Fran Kirby and Lucy Bronze. It was just another reminder of the fusion between female sportswomen and how the success of each individual helps to drive and inspire other creative endeavours. As a trio, they offer just a glimpse into the array of talent that surrounds both sport and music as well as just a few of the personal stories of triumph which continue to inspire countless young women.


To celebrate the relationship between the female form of the game and the myriad of creative industries out there, we spoke to a collective of inspiring London-based women about their creative professions, how living in the capital has fuelled their creative endeavours and the long-lasting impact of this summer’s Women’s World Cup.

Teah, aged 20, is a full-time model signed to Storm Models. Although she’s only been full-time for a year, Teah has been modelling from a very young age and willingly signed from the age of 13. The basis of her career has been withheld by her eagerness and the early introduction to modelling in London.


How has living in London impacted you as a creative female within your industries?


It’s one of the places you can get a lot of inspiration from because it’s so diverse. It’s made it easier to be creative because you have so many sources of inspiration and a good place to be able to outlet all that creative passion.


How has living in a diverse city like London allowed you to remain within the boundaries of your culture/origin/background?


My dad is Nigerian, and my mum is Danish. I’m from two completely different places yet, living in London, I still meet people that are from both of those places and I can still stay connected to my countries through these people even though we’re not there. I speak Danish with my mum, but I’ve never been to Nigeria or spoken the language but because my grandparents live here, I still eat the food and I’ve met so many Nigerian people that I can learn from myself. You’re still connected to that culture even if you’re not in that place.


Piper, aged 19, has recently moved over to South-West London from Exeter to pursue a career in modelling after being signed to Titanium Management. Coming from a place that lacked a foundation of diversity and opportunity, Pippa’s move to London was one that defined her future in both modelling and music as a singer-songwriter.


What has your creative venture allowed you to express as a female? 


Just being confident. I was quite shy when I was younger and now meeting and talking to new people every day and showing my personality and being more than just a face is definitely something that has happened through modelling.


What was your experience been like living in London?


There’s so much more diversity compared to Exeter and I fit in more. In Exeter, I didn’t really fit in, I was one of however many mixed-race girls. I prefer it in London personally because it’s very small in Exeter and here there’s many more opportunities for me and what I want to do. 

Gracey, aged 19, is a model who has recently been signed to Nevs model agency. Her creativity remains within no boundary as she also works towards her passion for ceramics and her assisting with make-up on set.


What do you love the most about what you do?


The creativity and that it changes all the time, the place changes all the time. The fact that no day is ever the same and there is no set routine.


How has living in London impacted you as a creative female within your industries?


London is like a creative industry hub so it’s the place to be if you want to pursue a creative career to be honest.

Mykeesha, aged 22, has recently made an unplanned move back to London after spending the last 20 years in Australia. Newly signed, she works to revive her childhood career of modelling and her beloved sport of football after dedicating the years to education.


What has your creative venture allowed you to express as a female? 


Everything really. I mean, I’ve never really been held back in the creative side like my family is very creative. Modelling makes me a bit more comfortable. I’m a very confident person but it gives me that extra boost to be more confident and get it out there a lot. I also love people so meeting people is such a beautiful experience to have. You get the amazing experience to travel the world and meet new creative people.


How was moving back into London?


It was a big move. I moved with £1000 and then I ended up getting pick pocketed and it all got taken off of me. I was stuck with nothing and had to get a job as quick as possible. But I wouldn’t change it at all, I’ve learnt so much like how to live off of nothing and in the process, got to see London for what it really is.


Do you have an existing relationship with football? If so, what can you tell me about your relationship with football?


I’ve played football ever since I could walk, and I got offered two scholarships, but I didn’t take them because I wanted to go school with my sister; biggest regret of my life. When I was an adult, my mum said I could start playing for the women’s team and I played in the sixth division, but it was so bad, and my skill level dropped. I want to get back into football because it’s just such a beautiful sport and I love it. 

Leah, aged 21, born and raised in East London but of Jamaican, Irish and Spanish descent, has been a full-time model for three years signed to Milk Management. Alongside her modelling, Leah works towards her art as she continues to broaden her source of self-expression.


What has your creative venture allowed you to express as a female? 

I’d say it’s just an open canvas for you to express everything especially when it comes to painting. I can just put whatever is on my mind on a canvas, it doesn’t have to make sense, It’s just expression.  I find that freeing.


How would you describe the progress of women in the field of sport, whether it be football or athletics?


I think it’s amazing. It’s so progressive that ten years ago, back in the day, women’s football teams and a women’s world cup wouldn’t be happening. But now, it’s available to everyone to see which is cool. It shows younger girls that football isn’t only a male-dominated sport and if they want to do it, they can do it as well.

Fearless and bubbly in her stance, Saida, aged 21, has recently graduated from university after studying Biomedicine. Taking a year out, she turned towards a career in modest modelling after being signed to IMM Models. Coming from a scientific realm far from the creative industry, Saida shares her personal experience of the opportunities she has encountered as a Muslim woman born and raised in East London.


What has your creative venture allowed you to express as a female? 


I feel like modelling is one of the few industries that female-dominated anyway. It’s a bit worrying but with being a modest model, it’s opened up a new realm of different female personalities and faces that haven’t been explored as much. I think it’s great and everyone is represented; we’re going forward. Other people growing up that look like me and can relate to me can see that there’s an example there rather than deeming it [modelling] impossible because ‘no one is like me’. It has opened up a different message which is really cool.


How would you describe how things have changed for women positioned across all industries, creative?


My dream would be to be able to walk into an all-female set. I think that it would be very cool. I feel like there’s still a bit of a divide. Overall, I think women have more of a say on what they do. The content that is currently out there is very liberating which is different to how it would been restricted in the past. This is the most diverse we’ve ever been, and people are open to these discussions.


How has living in a diverse city like London allowed you to remain within the boundaries of your culture/origin/background?


I feel like people in London are accustomed to the diversity and are accepting and it really allows me to flourish and grow. In this generation, everyone is doing what everyone else is doing and it’s hard to stay connected to the family culture that has been instilled in you from young. Living in London has allowed me to stay close to my culture, even in the smallest ways like being able to wear traditional clothing without being judged. I originate from Somalia and London has allowed me to be who I am.

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