England star Leah Williamson: Most women footballers still need backup careers
England soccer player Leah Williamson has spoken out about the importance of women athletes having another qualification in their ‘locker’ as she said the sport needs more women in positions of power.
This comes as the Lionesses and Arsenal defender has been ruled out of the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand due to a knee injury and surgery.
Williamson, who trained as an accountant alongside her football career, told the PA news agency that the pursuit of a different qualification initially served as an “insurance policy” for herself.
She told PA: “Originally, when I started this, women’s football wasn’t as safe as it is now.
Most footballers my age have qualifications just because we have to have them in case something goes wrong
“I started it as a kind of insurance to take the pressure off of football. So if it doesn’t work out, I have something else.”
“Most footballers my age have qualifications just because we have to have them in case something goes wrong,” she said.
The 26-year-old defender’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury last month was a blow to the club as England’s first World Cup game was played against Haiti on July 22.
She said in a statement: “Ultimately I think it’s just my time (to suffer an injury).
“Since last October I haven’t had a day that I’ve walked out onto the pitch without a physical or mental question mark, and that’s pro sport.
“So now I have to listen to my body, give it what it needs, and if it’s all happening for a reason, we’ll see where this twist takes me.”
Meanwhile, Williamson revealed she had invested in Toca Football on her first foray into the business world last week.
Working with Toca, which operates soccer-themed social entertainment venues under the Toca Social name and operates indoor soccer centers in North America, will help increase women’s participation in the sport, she said.
The company and her qualifications as an accountant highlight how important it is for athletes to have a surrogate career, Williamson told PA.
“I enjoyed math at school, so it seemed like a safe thing to check off and always have in my locker.
“I don’t want to wish for my career, but it’s a short-lived time for all of us.”
Williamson also spoke about the need for more women in leadership positions across the sport.
There are so many spaces in football where women are needed in positions of power
“There are so many spaces in football where women are needed in positions of power… and there are places where I would like to see women have a lot more influence than we already do,” she told PA.
She said she could move into a decision-making position at a company and is inspired by retired players making a “smooth transition” into their next role.
“It’s a really good balance. The nature of our work requires absolute dedication and the performance side of it consumes you.
“But it’s so important and from my point of view before the end I want to know where I want to go.”
The captain was among the lionesses inducted into the New Year’s Honors Roll, where she was made an OBE.
She also signed a three-book deal with Macmillan Children’s Books earlier this year.
https://www.standard.co.uk/business/business-news/england-star-leah-williamson-most-female-footballers-still-need-backup-careers-b1082667.html England star Leah Williamson: Most women footballers still need backup careers