“Respect in life, let alone football, is massive. It should be a given. It should be in people’s DNA.” says WSL star Beth Mead.
Mead and her long time England Lionesses team mate Jordan Nobbs are two of the most respected and loved footballers in the country.
Part of countless successful national squads, the pair have represented their country at major tournaments across the globe.
However, despite their glittering professional career and achievements, respect from others can sadly be in short supply. This lack of respect can be seen both in person and via online platforms.
Rather than just accepting it, the Lionesses duo are looking to use their platform to implement change. That is why the two are taking on ambassador roles for Nationwide and the FA’s ‘Coin For Respect’ campaign.
Cultivating mutual respect
Launched in April, the campaign aims to promote mutual respect on and off the pitch. The country’s school children have been encouraged to design a unique coin to be used before games. The coins will serve as a reminder to show respect for your opponent – as well as each other. The winning design will be distributed to 20,000 grassroots referees.
“I think the word respect needs to become the norm. Unfortunately, in this day and age it isn’t. If a kid sees a player not respecting a referee, they could then go and play in a school game and find it acceptable to be disrespectful on a football pitch,” Nobbs said.
“We want the game to be a better environment worldwide. We know this is just the UK, but if we can make 1% of difference with a campaign like this, it’s a job well done.”
“We’re very lucky to be doing what we are doing. We, as individuals – and our clubs and the national team – are perfect for this type of campaign.”
“We know little boys and girls look up to us. Every little thing we do as footballers, people will listen, whether it’s good or bad. So, if we can put this across and people listen to it – it’s the perfect platform.” reflects Mead.
Hope for the future
“Maybe we can’t change everyone’s opinion now, but if we can highlight the importance of respect to as many children now, hopefully in 10 or 20 years’ time we will start to see changes. If we can make this campaign work, will others look at it and implement their own, can more campaigns join us hand in hand? Respect is a big part of our lives, but can we then hand that on to kids, who then pass it on to their kids in the future?” added Nobbs.
“Being at Arsenal 11 years now, they try to involve everyone and they have so many campaigns going on at the same time – it’s always a good sign when you see that at a club. I think all clubs and national teams have a huge responsibility to be good role models, do the right things and take on that responsibility.”
“It sounds silly really, talking about respect because it should just be a given, and it would be an easy ticking box, but that is why we have to keep highlighting it. I think the main thing is the younger kids coming up, how we keep highlighting it to them.”
“Some footballers have millions of followers on social media and are extremely influential, and they have to take that responsibility in the way they use the word respect, how they speak to referees and how they speak with fans on the sideline.”
“As footballers being good role models is all we can do, and hopefully that then filters into other people.
“The more we take a stand, the more we will become a collective with that”.
Campaign to start in new season
The pair can’t wait to start their campaign with fans by their side for the first time since March 2020. Thankfully, the football world is returning to some sort of normality and a brand new WSL season is on the horizon. The importance of this campaign will remain at the forefront of their minds.
“We’ve missed the fans. We want to win games for them, and we want to celebrate with them. With Sky Sports now showing the games, it’s such an exciting time for the women’s game,” said Mead.
“Fans are raring to go to games and more people want to come to the game now. More people are going now, enjoying coming to the women’s games and are surprised by the quality. We’ve missed the cheers, the celebrations, and the little bit of energy fans give you. Football is nothing without the fans really.”