By Jamie Day | Published on 15 February 2019
As part of my ongoing collaboration with Southern Rail, I’ve again been thinking about journeys. Similarly to how a train journey can transform your day, an experience, or perhaps even your life (we’ve all seen Sliding Doors!), I’ve been considering the journey that my daughter, Edie, has been on.
Edie loves football, and when I say love, I mean LOVE. This probably (ok, definitely) has a lot to do with the fact I’m a huge fan too, and whenever the TV isn’t blasting out kids’ shows, I try my best to get the footie on. I’ve also taken Edie to a Wolves game (Wolves? I hear you cry…! My dad is from Wolverhampton and it was basically drummed into me as a youngster that Wolves were my only choice), and she watched every England game during the World Cup. But the thing I’m most proud of is the journey she’s been on with the football club she plays for.
When she joined a year ago, she was incredibly shy and uncomfortable around children she didn’t know. She begged for me to stay and watch as she played - I was the only parent that had to do this. Interestingly, despite the huge growth and popularity of women’s football over the last decade, she was the only girl at the club. There were around 13 boys, and just Edie.
Despite her shyness, it was quickly apparent to me and her coaches, that once she got stuck in, she was really good. She’s always been tall, fast and strong, so could hold her own against the boys, but she soon found herself scoring goals, making crunching tackles and bossing games. Slowly but surely, she came out of her shell.
Fast forward a year, she’s now the heartbeat of the team, she’s popular with the rest of the squad and receives frequent praise from the coaches and other parents. But perhaps the most inspirational part of her journey is that now THREE girls have joined the team off the back of Edie’s success, with another two joining in early 2019. Of course, I’m proud when she scores a goal, but the fact she’s overcome her shyness to go on and inspire other girls to join what remains a very male-dominated sport fills my heart with immense pride and joy.
To continue her footballing journey and to treat her for her quite brilliant transformation, I recently took Edie on a tour of the home of football, no, not Wolves’ stadium, but Wembley. I wanted her to soak up the atmosphere, the sheer scale of it all, experience Wembley Way and hopefully feel inspired to continue playing and inspire other girls to get their own set of boots – perhaps one day she might grace the hallowed turf herself.
Entrenched in the tradition of watching football in the Day family is getting the train to a game. My dad and I have shared many a train ride up to the Midlands, discussing tactics and transfer gossip whilst relaxing in the comfort of the carriage. Continuing this tradition, our journey to Wembley was via Southern Rail. Edie’s transformation from the quiet girl who questioned if she even wanted to continue playing football was complete as we rolled into Wembley Central from Clapham Common and she hopped off the train, full of confidence and excitement.
To me, the train journey is part of the whole experience and anticipation that builds as the wheels roll ever closer to the destination. Being able to sit and relax allows the parent-child bond to cement over football chat away from the stress of traffic jams or getting lost en route to the ground.
I’m delighted that Edie and I are continuing this tradition, (with the help of Southern Rail on this occasion, of course), and long may it continue. And long may she continue to inspire other girls.