Aspiring young footballers who would usually be fine-tuning their skills at one of Albion in the Community’s regular football sessions were offered an insight into life as a professional footballer by two of the Albion’s WSL squad.
Laura Rafferty and Ini Umotong took part in an online question and answer session with dozens of the charity’s young players, sharing tips on how to prepare for games, talking about how they’ve been keeping active during lockdown, and answering questions about their careers in football.
Both players also spoke about the people who inspired them when they were younger, and different challenges they have overcome, with Rafferty talking openly about how she has coped with the serious injury which has ruled her out of action since last August.
The young players asking the questions were invited from among the hundreds of girls who ordinarily would be attending Albion in the Community’s weekly football sessions.
Encouraging more girls to play football here in Sussex is one of the Albion in the Community’s key objectives and pre-lockdown the charity had seen a steady increase in the number of girls attending one of its sessions.
Those sessions, however, have had to be suspended because of wider Covid-19 precautions, with Albion in the Community coaches looking to find other ways to engage regular participants.
For example, players from across the charity’s football projects are being set weekly football homework and skills challenges.
And there are the opportunities to engage with Albion with players during online question and answer sessions, with this week’s WSL broadcast following a similar session involving Dan Burn and Bernardo for players who attend the charity’s session for people with a disability.
Mark Pedrick, football pathway manager at Albion in the Community, said, “The club’s WSL players are all fantastic role models and players the young people at our sessions all look up to.
“Laura and Ini have both visited various Albion in the Community sessions during their time at the club and are really supportive of the work we are doing as a charity.
“It was great to be able to invite our young players to take part in the question and answer session and something they really appreciated – particularly given how much they’re all missing playing football at the moment.
“All our players dream of playing for the Albion one day so to speak to two players who are doing just that was fantastic and really inspired the young people we work with.”