Women playing football is something that is now being accepted as a normal part of Australian sporting life. Thanks to the likes of Sam Kerr and Megan Rapinoe, women playing the world game is more exciting than ever before.
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However, it’s grassroots involvement that's really driving the growth and prosperity of female football in Australia. There were nearly 150,000 female footballers registered to play in 2019, with that number expected to rise this year.
Celeste Scott, from Geelong in western Victoria, is one such player and is a self-described “average footballer” at Drysdale SC.
She plays in the women’s team in the local GRFC competition. Her story is one that would resonate with thousands of women around the country playing a simple game of football but getting a lot more out of it than kicking goals and winning matches.
“I absolutely love everything about being able to play for Drysdale,” begins Scott. “I’m a wife to Andrew, and a mother to two little future soccer stars Hamish (aged six) and Harry (four).
“The soccer influence really began back in 2007 when I first met my now husband.
“Being 19 years old and in my second year at university, after a night drinking many lemonades and enjoying my sleep, I was shocked to hear an alarm go off at bloody 3am and an irritating glow of a very old TV screen the size of a dinner plate.
“I can still hear the sounds of the singing... ARRRRRSSSEEENNAAALLL, AAAAARRRSSSEEENNNAAALL ringing in my ears as I tried to sleep. I really had no choice but to be immersed in soccer forever if I was going to stick with Andy!”
Scott, who juggles football and family life with her job as a school teacher, was a relatively late starter to the world game, but is now very much entrenched in the addictive world of football.
“Before my husband, I was a basketballer surprisingly,” she explains. “I never played soccer apart from PE at high school and only knew one soccer player’s name which was David Beckham, much to my husband’s embarrassment.
“The basketball preparation gives me an edge in soccer with my strength in the ‘elbows’ and man-on defensive mindset, not so good for throw-ins, kicking or passing though.
“Luckily it was easy to play in the division two Geelong regional competition without feeling too incompetent with my basic soccer skills.”
While becoming a mum is often an inhibiting factor for many women when it comes to playing sport, Scott actually found it gave her life tremendous balance, and helped her become a better parent.
Her story is compelling evidence of the benefits of women playing sport in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally.
“I started playing soccer at age 27, when my eldest son was only nine weeks old. Not your usual way to use maternity leave but it kept me sane and gave me a little mental break while figuring out the new challenges of motherhood.
“It helped me in many ways I didn’t anticipate. I felt like I was free for a couple of hours, that I mattered still as a separate person, not just a mother and wife, I felt healthier and fitter and was losing baby weight.”
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