People are STILL surprised that women can be professional footballers in 2019

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England Lioness Fran Kirby speaks to Stylist about playing in the FIFA World Cup 2019, revealing that she still needs to explain her job to people who don’t believe women can be professional footballers

The mighty England Lioness squad was announced earlier this month in a very cool way.

Emma Watson, Ellie Goulding, David Beckham and Prince William were among the high-profile women’s football supporters who took part in an online campaign of videos and photos, revealing the 23 women who will be representing England in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019.

This year, the Lionesses might just bring it home. They are the third best female team in the world, after all…

Speaking to Stylist ahead of July’s competition in Paris, Chelsea and England forward Fran Kirby described the excitement and pressures of representing her country in the female game.

“We’re all coming under the pressure of it now, we have to accept that because we want to grow and grow and grow. We have to deal with the positives and the negatives that come alongside that,” she said. “I think we’re learning very quickly how to deal with all of it. There is a long way to go for some of the girls who are just coming into it but we want the game to grow in the right way and football is a game of opinions – you’re going to be under pressure no matter what you do.”

Explaining what she’d like to see happen in national women’s sport over the next few years, Kirby said media coverage plays a key part. “I think it is getting better and there are more TV shows and channels getting involved promoting women’s sport, like Sky Sports has Netball, and we’re going to be on BBC,” she continued. “You see now more girls getting involved in their sports because they can see it on TV and see these people playing and I think the more and more it’s exposed and is out there – it will continue to grow and grow. They watch it on TV and think, ‘Well that could be me!’.”

England Lioness Fran Kirby has teamed up with Stockx in a new campaign celebrating women's football

Kirby also believes that staying positive on and off the pitch – despite the pressures – is what can ultimately encourage more people to play and watch the game. “It’s always in our mind-set to encourage young girls to get playing” she added. “The only way we can do that is being positive off the pitch, trying to engage as much as possible.

Watch Fran Kirby and her fellow Lionesses in the StockX ‘Our Time’ campaign video

“We’re in a position where we can show young girls that you can do this and you can do this as a full time job – and we want to make sure that they are aware of that. There are still to this day some people who, when I speak to them, are like, ‘Oh you play professional then, you’re a full timer? Does that mean that you train every day?’ I still have to educate people, so I think we’re always constantly trying to educate and inspire so that they think ‘yes you can do this’.” 

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To kick off the football fever, Kirby has teamed up with sports lifestyle retailer StockX for new campaign ‘Our Time’ to enjoy a new generation of footballers.

Images: Getty and Stockx

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