Katie Chapman hails ‘big moment for women’s football’ ahead of Soccer Aid debut
The former Chelsea and Arsenal player is one of the first women to play for the England side in the charity game.
The first female footballers to play for England at Soccer Aid have said it will be “a big moment for women’s football”.
Rachel Yankey and Katie Chapman will join John Terry, David Seaman, Sir Mo Farah and Jamie Redknapp in the charity match for Unicef.
Chapman told the Press Association: “It’s really surreal, it’s a big moment for women’s football, putting males and females on the same pitch.
“It’s going to be a full stadium, hopefully millions of people will watch it on telly and just see that we can play together, anyone can play football, it is just a game.”
Asked why it has taken so long, Yankey replied: “That’s a good question, I don’t know the answer to it, to be honest, but it’s happened now and now’s a good time.
“And even bigger than the game is what it’s trying to represent and what it’s supporting – raising money for kids to be able to pay around the world.
“Both of us have children and are massive supporters of what youngsters can do.
“Anything that the boys can do in the playgrounds around the world, we want to be able to say girls can do that too, girls can be professional footballers, the WSL is professional, they can go to a World Cup.
“Boys have always known that, but there might be some girls that don’t know the World Cup is on now so watching this game, they might come to watch their favourite actor or pop star, and notice that we are playing and that might make them tune into the World Cup and that opens up a whole story for them to explore so that is the big picture.”
Chapman, who made 94 appearance for England before retiring last year, said she thought the women’s team had a good chance in the World Cup, which is going on now.
She said: “We have got a lot of young players, a lot of enthusiastic players who want to impress.
“It is tough in World Cups, there is a lot of pressure and expectation on the back of the last World Cup, but we hope they are up to raise their game.”
Sam Allardyce, who is managing the England team for Soccer Aid alongside TV presenter Susanna Reid, said women will continue to join the teams for the charity match from now on.
He said: “One thing they had to do was get permission off the FA and the FA should and have granted permission and they are really happy to join us.
“They have both got big reputations as players so hopefully they will keep our winning team going.”
He added: “Women’s football in general across the board in England is growing stronger and stronger and I think more and more youngsters are going to take the game up on a more serious basis and you can have a really good career now in the women’s game.”
Soccer Aid for Unicef will be broadcast live on ITV on June 16, starting at 6.30pm. To donate visit socceraid.org.uk