“I want to show how far women can go”, Kirsty Darlington, England
Meet Kirsty Darlington, currently living in the UAE who tells us here why and how football has been a constant in her life, no matter the town, country or climate.
To find out more about Equal Playing Field’s world record attempt, visit www.equalplayingfield.com
I have one brother who is three years younger than me. I managed to convince him to be a goalkeeper so that I could practise shooting! My dad drew a white goalpost on our brick back wall in the garden. Aged 11, one weekend, I stood on the sidelines watching a boys’ team with my dad. I picked up a ball and started doing to keepy-ups, showing off my skills. The coach noticed me and not long after I was substituted on for one of the players and had my chance! I dodged the challenges from the other boys and played my game. After the final whistle all the players on the field shook my hand and were happy with their new female teammate.
Both my parents have been really supportive in my football career, taking me to training sessions, watching me in the rain during football games, wiping away tears when I didn’t play well or got hurt and celebrated with me when my team got through to the final.
Growing up in a British Army family we moved around a lot. Despite changing schools, and groups of friends and climates, one thing stuck; football. Playing sports was sure to get you a great set of friends with similar interest. I joined my first female football academy when I was living in the midlands, in England. I joined Coventry City Under 14s and had never seen so many talented female players all playing in the same team before. I was hooked. Later, I joined Hull University Ladies FC, then for Hounslow, then Swindon Town and so on as I moved around. Finding a football team wherever I go is a priority to help me settle in, meet new friends and enjoy my sport.
I didn’t experience much discrimination as a football player when I played in England, so I’m very lucky. However, when I moved to the UAE and started playing football for various teams in Abu Dhabi and Dubai I soon found out that female footballers face many hurdles and set-backs in comparison. Female football in the UAE doesn’t get much limelight, funding or support from the government, however there are a growing number of girls and women who play and are interested in pursuing their football careers.
My passion for playing football has led me to my career in developing and coaching football too. Regional Sports have over 50 female players, which I have a first hand in developing and ensuring their commitment to the sport. Day to day I’m involved with developing our academy and reaching out to local communities, government and businesses, as we as marketing the great things we offer as an academy offering player pathways for all players who walk through our door. I have the best job in the world and it’s thanks to Regional Sports and football that opened the door for me!
Climbing Kili gives me the chance to show my players and fellow colleagues what women and most importantly women footballers can do and how powerful our message is.
I hope to inspire young players to push boundaries and challenge anything in their way of becoming who they want to be. I hope this challenge shows my colleagues and fellow male players what women can do and how far we can go to push ourselves.