ESF South Island School student Tatum Sadler talks goals for the girls.
How long have you been playing football?
Eight years, since I was four.
How often do you play?
I play one and a half hours a week. I’m in the Hong Kong Football Club’s Under 14s team and also the South Island School team.
How did you get started playing?
My dad encouraged me to try football when I was little. There weren’t enough girls teams then so I would play with the boys. It was really fun and I feel that I’ve become stronger and tougher because of it.
Are there girls on your team now?
Yes, these days the number of girls at Hong Kong Football Club (HKFC) is increasing – three years ago there were only nine of us and now there are over 120. I do wish there were more girls teams in my division because there are 10 boys teams and we only have three or four girls’. All the teams at the HKFC are of different levels so it would be good to have more girls teams up for matches. Sometimes when there aren’t enough girls for my school football team we get girls from local schools to join.
What do you like about football?
I like scoring and saving goals, and making close friends with the rest of my team. When you watch TV you might think that the players are just standing around a lot of the time, but when you are on the pitch there is actually a lot of pressure. We are not just standing around. We encourage our teammates and try to support each other.
Do you have a favourite position you like playing?
I don’t have a favourite position because we tend to switch around a lot but I do like being a defender. The great thing about it is you get to kick the ball off the field. If you miss it doesn’t really matter because you can always try again and do better next time.
What’s it like having your dad as your coach?
Sometimes I don’t realise that my dad is my coach. But I admit there have been times when he hasn’t told me off like the others. He pushes me hard to do my best and to reach my full potential because he has high expectations of me.
What’s been your most memorable football moment so far?
This year we played against the Hong Kong Women’s National Team for an exhibition match. It was quite an amazing experience – not everybody gets opportunities like that. And we very nearly won. We lost by just one goal and we even won the penalty shootout.
Also in June I had the opportunity to play in a tournament in Cambodia with the Indo StarFish Foundation. It was great because we got to learn a bit of the local language and provide football boots for children who can’t afford them. It was nice to meet other women football players and to see how they train.
And we were really happy to win the tournament plate.
How do you think playing football has benefited you as a person?
I’ve become more physically fit and I have more friends because everybody is quite close on the team. The team relationship forms a strong bond. Football has also helped me with my stamina. I am also a triathlete so football has been great for building my endurance.
Do you have a favourite football team or player?
Jodie Taylor from the Arsenal women’s team. She’s on the English national team as well. She just recently scored a hat trick at the European championships and is the first female to do so in history.
What are the challenges?
There is definitely the fear of letting the team down. There are times when we feel like we worked really hard and we thought we performed really well but we don’t end up winning. When I was younger I used to get angry when we lost but now I have learned to stand by what the referee says and just try harder next time. I have learned that even if the opposition are taller, stronger or more experienced I can always use my own skills to do my best. For instance, I know I have a very strong kick so I have a good shot at the penalty shoot outs.
Do you want to continue football when you grow up?
I wouldn’t mind doing football professionally as a coach or playing for the Hong Kong or English teams. As long as I am playing in some way I will be happy. There are some 15-16 year olds who help out with coaching at the HKFC so I might do that when I’m older.
What advice would you give girls thinking giving football a try?
Just have a go! You might not be as good as the others at the start but if you keep going your confidence will grow and you will come to really enjoy it.