1980s female footballer recalls 'sexist comments and jibes' as she watches England triumph

"I played in a men versus ladies football match once, where the men had to wear wellies - to give the women a chance."

Centre forward for Oswestry Ladies, back row centre, Curly Rogers
Centre forward for Oswestry Ladies, back row centre, Curly Rogers

Karen Rogers, or Curly as she is know by all, is a talented footballer. But in the 70s and 80s her talents had to be limited to the playground at primary school, a pub team from her mid 20s, and later managing a village team.

She doesn't mind admitted that watching England take the title in the Euros had her sobbing.

For she hopes it means young girls will now be able to start playing soccer alongside the boys and that one day men and women will line up in the same team.

"From as long as I remember all I ever wanted to do was play football," Curly, a swimming instructor from Pant, said.

Her dad, also Curly Rogers, was a Liverpool apprentice who went on to be a successful winger for Oswestry Town.

"I was always with him as a child. We would line the pitch and I would sit on his shoulders to put the nets up. I also used to go up and down the line with the first aid kit."

She played football in the playground at Llanymynech Primary School but at secondary school, an all girls' school, there was nothing.

Curly Rogers

"We did athletics and rounders in the summer, and hockey and netball in the winter," she said.

While she excelled at netball it hurt that she could not play her beloved football.

"I desperately wanted to be a boy just so I could be a footballer."

Netball continued after school in a local league then, aged 25 she joined Oswestry Ladies football team. But not for them the Oswestry Town pitch, the ladies played on the Highwayman pub pitch.

"The men from the pub used to come out with their pints to watch us, and take the mickey out of us. All we got were sexist remarks and jeers. And most of them couldn't kick a ball if they tried.

"I borrowed my brother's football boots and shin pads."

The team played all over the Midlands with Curly as the centre forward.

Later in life she played for Pennant Ladies across the Welsh border and also managed her son's team.

"The men involved and other managers would talk to me as if I didn't have a clue. It still happens today if I dare to voice an opinion about a match."

She said today's England squad played quality football and scored quality goals.

"Yet when they won they couldn't quite believe it because they have never dared to believe that women can triumph," she added.

Now Curly says football has to be completely inclusive.

"We don't have girls' swimming and boys' swimming, or tennis or marathons. So why does it have to be different for football. All children should be taught together."

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