Meet Katie Donegan, defender with Basingstoke Town LFC in southern England. Katie describes how important football has been to her through life and how it keeps pulling her back! She also tells us how she wants others to have the same opportunities as she has had.
Katie is helping fundraise to ensure fellow athlete Josefina Martorell from Argentina can join us on the mountain. If you would like to help Katie and Josefina, please donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Josefina-Mount-Kili
I grew up on the outskirts of London with two older brothers. Whatever my brothers did I wanted to do too and I started playing football because my eldest brother did. My Dad was especially supportive and helped me find a local girls team to play in when I was about 8. My Dad has always been my biggest fan and he still comes to watch me play a couple of decades later! He has been to about 90% of my games throughout my career and I feel so lucky that I have had him supporting me all the way.
I played any and all sports going when I was growing up. I played cricket briefly but that clashed with football and I had to make a choice and football won! Football is by far my favourite sport though and the only one I play now.
Football has helped me through some tough times, I find it a great way to de-stress and switch off from the rest of the world. Nothing else matters when you’re out there on the pitch with your teammates. I am exceptionally fortunate with all the opportunities and support I’ve had.
My 2005/06 season when I was playing for Barnet was my highlight – we won the treble – the league, the league cup and the Middlesex Cup. We also made it to the last 16 of the FA cup where we met Liverpool and narrowly lost 3-2 having gone ahead twice in the game! My proudest moment in football was being awarded player of the season in such a successful season and in such a strong team. It felt great to be recognised and to know I made a big difference to the team.
I stopped playing when I started working full time as life simply got in the way. But something pulled me back 8 years later. I came back, thinking “I’m getting older, I’ll give it one more year and see what happens”. I was 31 at the time. We have a 50 year-old in our team. That put things into perspective - and now I realise I still have lots to give! I play for my local club Basingstoke Town and we’re doing really well – promoted last year, though a harder season this year.
I hope that women in other countries get the kind of opportunities that I have here in the UK. I realise I am fortunate with all the opportunities I’ve had to play sport as a woman and there are women in other countries that don’t get that kind of support and are actively discouraged from playing. I have never experienced that personally and I want all women to have that same experience.
I’ve never been told I can’t play and it shocks me that women are actively discouraged from playing sport in other countries. I want girls and women all over the world to have the same opportunities that I’ve had here in the UK. I feel really lucky that I have never had to overcome any kind of adversity as a result of being female. I can’t wait to climb the mountain in June and hopefully inspire other girls and women to get involved with sport in general - and football in particular.
To support Katie and Josefina climb Mt Kilimanjaro and support their efforts to be inspirations to others, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Josefina-Mount-Kili
To find out more about the challenge, please go to www.equalplayingfield.com