For West Ham goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, female sports heroes were difficult to find as a teenager.
“I didn’t have anything like this growing up,” Arnold says. sky sports On the occasion of International Women’s Day.
Born into a rugby league family in Australia, he was the NRL on TV every week for Arnold, and he “definitely didn’t watch women’s football”.
“Honestly, it wasn’t really that high-profile back then,” said the Australian international.
International Women’s Day is a very important day not only for women in sports or football, but for the whole world in general, and I think it is not recognized enough. As a female football player, I really didn’t have many female icons to emulate. I think it is really important for us footballers to pave the way for the next generation of football players.
It wasn’t until the age of 16 that Arnold really noticed the Matildas, Australia’s women’s soccer team, and had these role models in his life.
However, the lack of female representation in the sport Arnold grew up in is rapidly changing, and she is one of them.
Arnold still can’t believe it when young fans ask her for autographs after a game, but she is acutely aware of the role she and the rest of the Women’s Super League have played in paving the way for the next generation.
“It felt a little surreal to me,” Arnold says. “This means a lot, you don’t live your daily life thinking you’re that kind of icon for teen girls and lately boys. This is something very important and something we need to think about to inspire this younger generation who is going through it. »
Face-to-face meeting with Kerr ahead of Chelsea visit
The WSL has given this new generation of fans a wealth of female sports heroes to look up to, and few are greater than Arnold’s Australian teammate and Chelsea forward Sam Kerr.
Arnold and Kerr will have to put their friendship aside on Thursday night as champions Chelsea head to West Ham. Sky sports.
Thursday, March 10, 19.30.
The two shared a FaceTime conversation Monday night. “We don’t really talk much about football,” Arnold replies when I asked him if there were any jokes about the game in the phone call. But after the final whistle, he expects a few jokes to happen.
His relationships with his international teammates have been very important to Arnold since arriving in England, as many Australians conduct their trades at WSL, particularly in London.
“This helps a lot, frankly we’re all from Australia but the group that came in, we’ve grown together since we were 15-16 to be honest,” he told Sky Sports.
“So we’re actually very close. And to have that, girls outside of West Ham, just to get away from it a little bit, that’s really important. I think it’s helped us all a lot.”
Freshman Kerr and Chelsea threats
Arnold knows he will face a tough test against Kerr, whom he describes as a ‘world-class striker’, but is careful not to be too distracted by Australia’s top international striker and forget about the other threats Chelsea represent.
“Obviously he has that pace up front, but his runs are really smart and he’s a very smart football player and he knows where to be at the right time,” adds Arnold.
“This represents the threat from the front and you need to keep him and the rest of the front line in check. »
Chelsea are battling for back-to-back titles, but face a tough test from Arsenal, who are eight points ahead at the top of the table. But the champions have three matches in their hands.
Any falling points could be key to the title race and add another level of importance to Thursday’s London derby with West Ham.
“I think we are nearing the end of the season and this is an important moment for all teams, especially Chelsea, who are struggling at the top of the league,” said Arnold.
“We try to approach the game like any other game, but I also think we need to keep in mind the threat they pose to the attackers and the skills they have.”
West Ham’s goals this season
West Ham are eighth in the WSL chart, but a win against Chelsea on Thursday could put their points on par with fifth Manchester City, which will be the next action at Tottenham on Sunday.
Arnold is pleased with the improvement he has seen on his side after some disappointing points early in the season and is optimistic for the remainder of the campaign.
“I think the season has gone pretty well,” said Arnold.
“I think we’re a few points away from our best point total of a season. We have a pretty tough series of matches ahead of us, so it’s important for us to stay at the same level right now and like I said, take one game at a time and go from there.”
Watch the West Ham – Chelsea match in the Women’s Super League live on Sky Sports Football on Thursday at 19.30; It starts at 19:45.