Meet Paige Uttley, a Centre Back from California in the US. Here Paige describes why she plays football and what climbing Mt Kilimanjaro with the Equal Playing Field squad means to her.

To support Paige please visit https://www.youcaring.com/paigeuttleyandtheequalplayingfieldteam-799662  

 

I’ve been playing football since I was six. My older sister had started playing a year earlier and I decided it looked like fun. It was a co-ed team and I loved the fact that I could not only keep up with, but beat the boys. I’ve always preferred team sports - I used to joke at university that my team was my sorority. Most of my oldest friends are people I played sports with.

 

I tried every sport I could - football, basketball, track and field, volleyball, tennis, snowboarding. I even tried ballet and gymnastics, although it was quickly clear that I was too clumsy for these! But sports were a great way to work off my energy and make friends. My family were really supportive - I think we were at football tournaments every weekend of my childhood. My dad was my number one fan.

 

By the time I was 14, my team was playing all over the Western United States. I was also in the Northern California Olympic Development Program. My proudest moment in soccer was winning the
California State Cup. I played at university and after graduating I joined a local women’s club in London. Now I’m back in the US, I play purely for fun. I play on pick up teams, indoor teams, women’s teams and co-ed teams. I am not as good as I was! But I still love the comradery, the friendships, the exercise, and both the mental and physical release that football provides.

 

When I play football I don’t have to worry about work or bills or expectations, I just have to play. It brings me together with those I love and gives us something to share - my husband and I play football together, my friends and I play football together.

 

Can you believe people would say ‘sorry you only have girls’ to my dad! Luckily he would immediately respond ‘I’m not!’. But it’s still outrageous that people would even think that, let alone say it. I work in the sciences, which are still very male dominated. In my first job after university I had a colleague who one day refused to call me by my name but instead only referred to me as ‘baby’! Women do need men to stand up and speak up for them. But we also need to stand together. That’s why I’m climbing Kili.

 

To support Paige please visit https://www.youcaring.com/paigeuttleyandtheequalplayingfieldteam-799662

To find out more about the challenge, please go to www.equalplayingfield.com