This article is an excerpt from the Young Lionesses feature from Issue 01 of GAFFER: ‘England’s Finest’. Available from our online shop now.
Maz Pacheco plays for England U21s and Reading FC, who she signed with in July after winning the FA WSL 2 League with Doncaster Belles. England born and bred, Maz grew up looking up to the likes of Steven Gerrard and Fara Williams. When she’s not on the pitch you’ll find her chilling with her girls, drinking coffee in an independent cafe, or playing guitar. Maz loves nothing more than a good British brew.
How did you fall into football?
I’ve got two older brothers so kind of got forced into it. My mum would take me to go watch on a Sunday and I’d always be with the ball on the sideline. One day she decided to take me to a boys team and that’s where I started.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve overcome since you began your football career?
I think one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced was when I went away on camp for our World Cup tournament. Spending over a month together with my team and making sure we performed both on and off the pitch was a big challenge. It can get intense but with the team I had, we pushed each other on.
How would you describe you experience growing up as a female in the football world?
I was fortunate enough to have a good experience growing up. The boys team that I started off at didn’t treat me any different or make me feel like I couldn’t play football. They were all very supportive!
How do you feel women’s football has developed since you started out?
The profile has definitely got bigger since I started. I would say the big turning point would have been when the seniors won bronze at the last World Cup – a successful campaign that was televised and promoted really well! More people are coming to the WSL games and selling out crowds when the seniors play at home. If we’re able to promote more league and cup games, and televise them or stream them online, the profile will only get bigger.
What’s you best England game memory to date?
When we played against Mexico, we were 1-0 down at half time and it was a must win game off the back of our loss against Japan. We walked into our changing room at the time and we were so focused on our game and our belief, we didn’t let our manager (Mo Marley) say a word. We were determined to fix it ourselves. In the second half we managed to win 6-1.
What’s the vibe when you’re preparing for a game with the team?
I’d say pretty chilled, a sense of focus but it’s relaxed at the same time. We know when it’s time to turn on and when to switch off as a group.
Who is the best female player right now?
It’s hard to say one player as the best, but at the minute who is on form in the FA WSL would be Vivianne Miedema.
What do you listen to when you’re prepping for a game?
Before a game throughout the day I’d say I listen a lot to Mabel, I like chilled vibes before having to focus on anything. Then once I need to concentrate or get in the zone I switch to J Hus and Mo Stack.