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THE GOONER | 304

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These were women that defined the game. Rachel Yankey is one of the greatest players Arsenal and England have ever had and she had to work at a second job for most of her playing career.

Faye White the legendary club captain was the Arsenal Women’s (then Arsenal Ladies) and WSL marketing officer and is a qualified sports massage therapist.

It is because the English League was not professional that many players went to play in the USA, where the league was professional.

Even now WSL players are hugely underpaid compared to their male counterparts. Many of them have to take on extra brand work to supplement their incomes, and not even the most highly paid are able to retire and never work again, which is an option for many male footballers.

Many players go into media work before they have retired, Jen Beattie covered the World Cup for ITV and RTE.

Arsenal have always put more time and effort into the women’s side, be that giving them jobs within the club during semi pro years, or moving them to Colney when the new training ground The Hub, was built in 2016.

All leagues below the WSL are semiprofessional, which means that jump for the promoted team is incredibly intense.

It also means that at all levels of the game players tend to stay in education, whether that be doing university party time and online, like Viv Miedema currently is, or going to college in the US on a soccer scholarship, like Lotta Wubben-Moy did.

There is a lot more money in the women’s game now, quite rightly. But it is still at a point where the players are ‘human’, that is the special thing about it. They are normal people who are wildly talented. Which is what makes them such perfect heroes, they have flaws.

If you go to Meadow Park you see girls in the crowd with that look in their eye when they realise that could be them one day.

I hope the women’s game continues to get more and more investment. Because I think for now at least there is a conscious effort to keep that very deep connection with the fans and just have the players at all levels be paid properly.

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