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Women’s Football Stars Unite To Inspire Next Generation In UEFA Together #Weplaystrong Podcast

Tackling the most prominent issues across the women’s football landscape, UEFA is launching its first ever pan-European women’s football podcast as part of its Together #WePlayStrong campaign to inspire a new generation of female footballers.

Hosted by Wolfsburg and Netherlands internationalist Shanice van de Sanden, Paris Saint-Germain and Danish internationalist Nadia Nadim and Dutch street football legend Rocky Hehakaija, ‘The Football Podcast’ from UEFA Together #WePlayStrong sees players debate common misconceptions in the women’s game and reveal for the first time their challenging personal experiences whilst playing at the top of the sport.

In ‘The Football Podcast’, club rivalry is put to one side as some of the biggest players from across the world unite to lift the lid on some of the most controversial topics that have surrounded the game for years. From the equal pay debate to whether women should play with smaller footballs or goals, the players candidly share what they believe needs to change to improve the game at all levels, as well as taking a stance against derogatory, misogynistic and gender-biased social media comments.

FIFA Women’s World Cup and Ballon d’Or winner Megan Rapinoe and the 2019/2020 UEFA Women’s Player of the Year Pernille Harder (Chelsea and Denmark) also join the line-up, alongside appearances from the Netherlands 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup ‘Golden Glove’ goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal and West Ham Utd and French internationalist Kenza Dali, with more to be announced.

As part of UEFA’s Together #WePlayStrong campaign, the six-part series aims to provide a platform for the game’s most influential players to inform and motivate the young stars of tomorrow to continue aspiring to reach their footballing goals.

Commenting on the launch of the podcast, Shanice said: “When I was starting out in football, there were many hurdles that I had to face every day to simply follow my passion. By placing issues such as gender, race and equality under the microscope, we hope to spark conversations which will empower girls who have had similar experiences to never give up on their footballing dreams.”

“Athletes should be brave and use their platform to stand up and speak up. They should always fight for more, and always inspire. Society glorifies athletes, we have a responsibility to use that shine and spotlight to make the world a better place,” added Megan.

The six pilot episodes explore common talking points in the women’s game and are aptly named around recurring negative comments experienced by the players on social media:

  1. The one where no one cares: exploring the evolution of women’s football in a crowded sports landscape.
  2. The one where our goalkeepers are embarrassing: breaking down stereotypes and discussing whether adjustments to pitch, goal and ball size could have a positive or negative impact
  3. The one where we should get back to the kitchen: players reveal the common insults they experience on social media and how this has impacted their performance on the pitch
  4. The one where we were beat by 15-year-old boys: looking at the best coaching environments to help steer girls to the top of the game
  5. The one where we don’t deserve equal pay: reviewing the most debated topic in women’s football – equality. But is it really about equal pay? The players reveal what they believe needs to change
  6. The one where we shouldn’t mention our periods: noting how menstrual cycles can affect players’ training and match performance

The first three episodes launched today on SpotifyApple Music and YouTube, and the next three episodes featuring Pernille Harder will be released at a later date.

Reflecting on her career, Nadia commented: “The perception of females involved in football has shifted massively since I began my career but unfortunately conversations around racial and gender equality has remained largely the same. By unlocking these subjects and bringing them to the fore front, we hope to spark a revolution of our game and unite the women’s football community to inspire change.”

Launched in May 2019, UEFA’s Time for Action women’s football strategy aims to support, guide and lift women’s football and women in football by 2024. ‘The Football Podcast’ will play a critical part of UEFA Together #WePlayStrong’s overarching aim to change the perceptions of women’s football and make the sport feel cool and relatable to young girls in the hope of encouraging them to continue or consider playing in the future.

“We wanted to create the first women’s football podcast that is genuinely made by the players, for the players. Shanice, Nadia and I have all faced challenges whilst pursuing careers in the sport that we love, both individually and collectively as women. Throughout the series, we hope to support young girls who are starting their journeys and encourage them to never give up,” added podcast host Rocky.

To join the conversation, follow @weplaystrong on Instagram or @WePlayStrong_ on Twitter.

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