As part of Sky Sports News’ Leading the Lionesses series ahead of the Women’s Euros, England’s first official women’s captain, Sheila Parker, talks about her professional journey, what it was like to play in her time and how the landscape of women’s football has changed since she was a player.
Considered one of the pioneers of the sport in the 1960s and 1970s, Parker was named the first official captain of the England women’s team formed in 1972 by the Women’s Football Association. Parker signed for the famous Dick, Kerr Ladies, later joining local team Chorley Ladies.
Parker started playing aged 13 and went on to captain England from 1972 to 1976. She told Sky Sports News: “I used to go watch Chorley FC at the recreation ground where I lived, and I went to their site to watch them play. And I loved seeing the sliding tackles and I thought how good that was.
” I loved kicking a ball and the guys were playing on the playground, and I asked if I could play with them originally and they said, ‘No, you don’t play football’.
” So, I just kicked a ball on my own, and then they noticed it and said, “You can join us if you want. So I joined the guys and from there it was just wonderful. »
In 1971 the ban preventing women’s football matches from being played on FA grounds was lifted and a year later, aged 24, Parker was selected for the team.
Sky Sports News asked Sheila to take us back to 1972 when the official England first team was announced and what it was like to lead the team. She reflected: “I think because I played and enjoyed it so much, that’s probably what made me think of them because they must have seen the sport come out.
” I could not believe it. And I thought in my mind that was good because of the joy of playing the game. You are allowed to lead a team in the game. So, yes, I was over the moon. »
She also discussed her family’s reaction to the news, adding: “They’ve only played very little and far between games and in various places. There weren’t many rounds where I lived. Few family members could do it, but those who managed to do it, they were thrilled for me. »
Parker captained for four years until 1976, leading England to victory in the first ever international home championships. She was eventually replaced by Carol Thomas.
Discussing his leadership style, Parker said: “I just told them to play football and tackle if they had to. But to make sure they have the ball and not the legs or the feet of the players. Yes, they all did very well, and I was glad I ordered them. »
Parker also spoke about his position on the pitch: “Well personally I don’t think position matters, well at the time it didn’t matter to me whether you were a defender, a goalkeeper, a midfielder. field, attacker.
“If you were captain it was a proud moment and all the players rallied around you so that was good.”
Parker would eventually win six Division 1 titles – five with Preston, one with St Helens – as well as five League Cups.
After an exciting career and a trailblazer in his day, what did being England captain mean to Parker?
“I’m trying to get him to come home, again!” Because I enjoyed it so much and traveled to different countries.
“I really enjoyed playing football and doing something that you love, it’s very hard to forget. No matter how old you are, you always think back to the times you enjoyed and playing football was one of them. »
The landscape of women’s football has changed over the years and, according to Parker, the role of England captain has also changed.
She said: “For me, the women’s game has also changed over the years. There’s so much money at stake these days.
“And in my day we sometimes had to pay to play, and the money was very hard to come by in those days, but it seems that has completely changed now.
” They [the current England team] I probably wouldn’t play like them if I was captain.
“I hope they would play like we did years ago, and the sport was so loved back then. It’s nowadays, I believe, but for me, I can see the difference between the years gone by and the years that are now to come. »
Parker has made 33 appearances for her country and with the Women’s Euro this summer, Sky Sports News asked if she had any advice for current England captain Leah Williamson.
” Just play football and enjoy the game and all play together and take care of each other on the pitch, and make sure you make the passes, and they get where they’re going.
“Don’t just give the ball away. Just play the game you like, hopefully like I did. »
Follow Euro 2022 on Sky Sports
Catch up on all the latest Euro 2022 news on Sky Sports and Sky Sports News this summer.
Coverage will be anchored by Sky Sports WSL presenter Caroline Barker, alongside Jessica Creighton and Kyle Walker. Meanwhile, Karen Carney, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Laura Bassett will provide analysis throughout the tournament.
They will also be joined by experienced England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and Manchester City defender Esme Morgan.
Pundits and presenters will work from the Sky Sports Women’s Euro 2022 mobile presentation bus, which will follow the Sky Sports News team around the country to the various stadiums where the matches are taking place.
Additionally, Sky Sports’ essential football podcast will be rebranded for the Sky Sports Women’s Euros Podcast Tournament from June 21. Hosted by Charlotte Marsh and Anton Toloui, it will feature exclusive news and player interviews in addition to a solid tournament programme.
Euro 2022: The groups…
Group A: England, Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland
Group B: Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland
Group C: Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland
Group D: France, Italy, Belgium, Iceland
Euro 2022: The calendar…
Wednesday July 6
Group A: England v Austria – kick off 8pm, Old Trafford
Thursday July 7
Group A: Norway v Northern Ireland – kick off 8pm, St Mary’s
Friday July 8
Group B: Spain v Finland – kick off 5.00pm, Stadium MK
Group B: Germany v Denmark – kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Saturday July 9
Group C: Portugal v Switzerland – kick off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village
Group C: Netherlands v Sweden – kick off 8pm, Bramall Lane
Sunday July 10
Group D: Belgium v Iceland – kick off 5.00pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Group D: France vs Italy – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
Monday July 11
Group A: Austria v Northern Ireland – kick off 5pm, St Mary’s
Group A: England v Norway – kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
tuesday july 12
Group B: Denmark v Finland – kick off 5.00pm, Stadium MK
Group B: Germany v Spain – kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Wednesday July 13
Group C: Sweden vs Switzerland – kick off 5pm, Bramall Lane
Group C: Netherlands – Portugal – kick-off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village
Thursday July 14
Group D: Italy v Iceland – kick off 5pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Group D: France vs Belgium – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
friday july 15
Group A: Northern Ireland – England – kick off 8pm, St Mary’s
Group A: Austria v Norway – kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
Saturday July 16
Group B: Finland v Germany – kick off 8pm, Stadium MK
Group B: Denmark v Spain – kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Sunday July 17
Group C: Switzerland vs Netherlands – kick off 5pm, Bramall Lane
Group C: Sweden v Portugal – kick off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village
Monday July 18
Group D: Iceland v France – kick off 8pm, New York Stadium
Group D: Italy v Belgium – kick off 8pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Wednesday July 20
Quarter-final 1: Group A winners v Group B runners-up 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
Thursday July 21
Quarter-final 2: Group B winners v Group A runners-up 8pm, London Community Stadium
friday july 22
Quarter-final 3: Winners Group C v Runners-up Group D – kick-off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village
Quarter-Final 4: Winners Group D v Runners-up Group C – Kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
tuesday july 26
Semi-final 1: Quarter-final winners 1 vs. Quarter-final winners 3 – kick-off 8pm, Bramall Lane
Wednesday July 27
Semi-final 2: Winner quarter-final 2 v Winner quarter-final 4 – kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK
Sunday July 31
Winners semi-final 1 v Winners semi-final 2 – kick-off 5pm, Wembley
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Leading the Lionesses: Sheila Parker gives advice to current England Women’s captain Leah Williamson | Football News – News 24 | News in France and abroad
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