In 1921 women's football was unforgivably banned, it took 50 years for the ban to be lifted and since it was, the game has done nothing but grow. Millie Bright, who plays centre back and captains England and Chelsea, is one of the biggest legends and most recognisable faces in women's football. I had the opportunity to hear her story and views on the game today and what she hopes it will become.


According to Bright, interest in the women's game has "most definitely" grown. She began playing when she was 9 years old for her local girls' team ‘Killamarsh Dynamos’ which she "only found out about from a friend." She says that, in comparison to the number of girls' teams now, her options were limited but she would like to think that now "it's a lot more visible and there's double the number of girls taking part." Today, girls still struggle with finding a career path in this field. However, Bright demonstrates that, while difficult, it is certainly doable. "When I was growing up, the option to become a pro wasn't there, so it was hard to have that dream” Despite this, she recognises and is satisfied knowing that now "young girls can grow up having the dream of becoming a pro and knowing it's 100% possible."


When asked, who were your biggest inspirations growing up? She reveals to me, "I have never really been the biggest football fan, but John Terry and Katie Chapman have always been the ultimate pros and role models on and off the pitch." She said that they "play with values I see in myself; solid tackles, hard workers, and playing with their heart on their sleeve." She also grew up with internal support, though few people in her family played. "My uncle played for a team on a regular basis. I always tried to go watch and support as often as I could. My mum actually played at school and is known for being my partner when I was younger and needed extra sessions."


To this day, there are still numerous inequalities and gaps between the men's and women's teams. Pay is the most popular proof, and although many disagree, some argue that there is a talent gap too. Women's football's growth is set to continue, so perhaps in the future men and women will be playing at an equal level or maybe even together on the same pitch. I thought it would be interesting to hear Millie's views on this. Do you think men's and women's football will ever be equal? "This is a tricky question," she told me. "What I will say is that, as a female footballer, I want all women to be given the same respect and opportunities that a male footballer would get." She spoke on behalf of all female players, saying, "We want our own identity and for people to watch the women's game without comparing it to the men's as it's completely different. We have unbelievable amounts of talent in the women's game. We score amazing goals and play on the biggest stages, so watch the women's game, appreciate it and don't compare. We want to stand out for the beautiful game we play, but, as I said, be treated equally to any male footballer. " When speaking on the topic of talent, she said, "Men and women have different physiques, so men have great talent, but so do women."


You very often see sexism towards female players on social media and in real life. Although Millie says she personally hasn't experienced this hate "if my teammates have suffered with this, then so have I and any female player, as this is our sport and passion, so we defend it together and continue to prove people wrong." South Parks U16s captain Tillie Parsons says, "One example i can think of is when i was training with my team in a local park and a group of young boys who were passing by started shouting things at us such as such as ‘football is a men's game,’ and ‘women can't play football,’ Many of the girls ignored it and continued, but a few were upset as they were just trying to do something they enjoyed. I also see it in a school environment as many of the male PE teachers fail to get involved with the girls' football. On one occasion, they gave the boys a much bigger space to play in, despite the numbers being even, which resulted in me hurting my ankle and being unable to play in my next match." Tillie's story is a prime example of how there is still a stigma associated with women playing football despite its popularity.


Millie also shared her hopes for the future. "I would like to see continued support in grassroots football giving more opportunities on a wider spectrum, more visibility and exposure, but I have to say we have come so far with this and it's amazing to see so many games on TV being analysed just like the men's." She shared some words of advice for young girls who want to start out "Just go for it! Seek help if you need it finding a team, put in the extra work and have no regrets. Always play with a smile and dream big.” These are morals that Coach Spencer Ogilvie supports; he, just like Millie, wants to encourage young girls to play more football and so he runs non-profit multi gender clubs to encourage young girls to join in and gain confidence in playing football. The sessions run on a Thursday from 6:30 till 7:30 at the Royal Alexandra and Albert School on the astro. If there are any young girls or even boys who would like to start, just turn up and join in.


The future of girls football looks more promising than ever before.