England Lioness Alex Greenwood talks to Stylist about women’s football - handling pressure, getting more girls involved and winning the world cup.
Football might finally be coming home this summer, thanks to the England Lionesses
The squad for the Women’s World Cup in Paris was announced earlier this week in the best possible way. Emma Watson, Ellie Goulding, David Beckham and Prince William were among the high-profile supporters who took part in a series of online videos and photos, naming the 23 women who will be representing England in the competition. With the Lionesses being ranked the third best women’s football team in the world, we’ve already got our hopes up.
Manchester United captain Alex Greenwood, who has played on the England women’s football team since 2014, will be returning as defender in July’s competition.
Encouraged by her mum, who told her to go and do whatever made her happy, Greenwood found passion for the game while playing football with a group of boys she grew up with. Sexism in the game has long been an issue in the male-dominated game, so she says she felt “lucky” to have had the respect of the group, who treated her “like a little sister”.
Greenwood went on to start her professional football career at Everton, before moving on to Notts County, Liverpool United, then Manchester United. She was named FA Women’s Young Player of the Year in 2012 and is now looking forward to representing England for a second time.
But she’s not about to let the pressure of a world cup get to her.
“For me personally, I don’t really feel pressure. I just enjoy focusing on winning. Obviously, when I lose, I’m disappointed, but I always think about what’s next and how I can improve with the team,” she explains.
“The best thing about playing in a team is that you make friends for life,” she continues. “My best friends play football and I play with them every single day. When I get to lift the trophy, I get to lift it with women who I call friends. They tend to become family really, because I spend so much time with a big group of women.”
More women than ever before are now playing football. Although Greenwood thinks the profile of the game is growing, she agrees that there’s still a lot more to be done to make sure even more girls get involved, so that women’s football continues to grow and finally get the recognition it deserves.
Watch Alex train a new generation of footballers
“It’s going to take time. I think we’re getting there, slowly, but the game is improving at a massive rate, “she says. “Power League are doing fantastic work for young girls, to get them on the football pitch and feel confident. Ultimately, if a young girl feels confident enough so that she’ll pick a football up and play – then that’s job done in my opinion. It’s the start and the future of the Lionesses.”
Greenwood firmly believes that being successful in her role can help inspire young girls looking to get into the game. “I want participation levels to increase massively,” she states. “I don’t know if girls know about the different pathways available to them. More can be done. Power League are doing a fantastic job of it and I think more can do the same.”
“The only way we’re going to get girls to watch it is by being successful and being idols by lifting that trophy,” she adds. “If we can do that this summer, then what a start.”
Alex is currently campaigning with Power League to drive a new generation of female footballers.