These Girls Did!

We take a look at a trio of inspirational women

As we approach International Women’s Day (Monday 8 March), we take a look at a trio of inspirational women who clearly dispel the myth that football is a man’s game!  
All three play key roles in the game in Northamptonshire and whilst they may all be at different stages of their career, Sarah, Mel and Meliz are all role models for women looking to get involved in the beautiful game... 

Sarah Bentley:

Image“As a lifelong fan of the game, I am very proud to be CEO of Northamptonshire Football Association. I am a passionate business leader and people development professional and in the last two years at NFA I have led the business to improve opportunities for women and girls to participate in football at all levels. I always seek to inspire others to push boundaries and make change happen and am currently spearheading work within the NFA to transform governance to create a truly inclusive and representative association.

“I also own my own training company, teach at Northampton College and I’m an elected councillor for the CBI.  My success in business has also been recognised in being awarded Northamptonshire Business Woman of the Year in 2018.”

Meliz Veli

Image“My name is Meliz Veli and I am currently a university student at the University of Northampton studying sports journalism. 

“Before I came to university I was heavily involved in the sporting world, from playing for Tottenham Ladies, to being a Level 3 football coach, tennis coach and referee! The list goes on. Sport is the one thing I know that I can channel my energy into which is why it’s always been such a huge part of my life. I am die-hard supporter of Manchester United and that’s all thanks to my dad, who got me into football to begin with! 

“I decided to go to the University of Northampton to study sports journalism as I always knew that I wanted to be involved in sport one way or another and seeing this course made it all the more worthwhile for me. I am currently the only female on the sports journalism course here at the university, however doing my placement work with the Northamptonshire FA has proved that women can achieve anything they want!

“I am currently in my second year at Uni and I’m the Captain of the Tennis team and have been appointed as the new women’s first team football captain as well! Sport is a massive part of my life and I believe if you have an opportunity, grab it with both hands! If I can do all this so can you.” 

Mel Blackmore:

Image“I was always told from a young age that girls don’t play football, so I wanted to prove everyone wrong. I played for the boy’s football team at Primary school once and the teacher said that he would never let that happen again. At 10 years old I began playing women’s football for Dunstable Ladies then moved house and went on to play for Letchworth, Stevenage, Hemel Hempstead, Berkhampstead and then Langford in the National League by the age of 16. Whilst doing this I played in every sports team in secondary school and started up a girl’s football club when I got to 6th form, with the help from a female maths teacher. I worked in a sports shop and a leisure centre whilst at school/college to be able to fund being able to play at that level.

“I went to study a 4-year course for PE teaching with sports psychology at Chichester University where I played for Southampton and Brighton in the National League along with playing for the university and taking over as player/coach. After my first year at university I gained a scholarship to play university soccer in USA.  Our team made it to Nationals that year, finishing 3rd. Being a level 2 coach I have had opportunities to coach in the USA doing summer camps as well as teams in England including Arlesey LFC, Hitchin LFC and Herts Schools county teams at U14/U16. I have now been a PE teacher for the last 20 years, have worked in Herts, Beds and now Northants and have seen many young players go on to achieve great things in the women’s game.

“I am now the secretary of the Northants, Beds/Herts Women’s and girls’ football leagues and have worked hard to gain my level 5 at refereeing. I am working with the Northants FA to help run refereeing and coaching courses for young people in the county. I want to be able to give back to the football community to enable others to have the amazing opportunities that I was given when I was growing up.  If it was not for those coaches volunteering their time and helping me along the way I would never have experienced half of what I have done over the years.

“I aim to use my experience to offer guidance and opportunities for girls and women, to strive forward in football by taking every chance they can, to be whoever they want to be and to reach their dreams and goals just like I did!

Go for it!”

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