Soccer Aid stars praise women’s football

Soccer Aid for UNICEF will take to the stage on Sunday evening for its 11th installment.

The world’s biggest celebrity charity match will return for another special event and will boast the biggest women’s lineup yet.

The level of female representation is something that is celebrated within this year’s camp.

England’s highest capped player Fara Williams and singer-songwriter Chelcee Grimes are both set to return to the Soccer Aid pitch, along with some debutants and new faces in the coaching setup.

Ahead of Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2022, GiveMeSport Women spoke with coaches Idris Elba, Harry Redknapp and David Seaman about the star-studded roster.

Actor and director Elba was delighted with Soccer Aid for UNICEF’s push to put more female stars in the limelight.

“Amazing, about time! We call it women’s football, but it’s football, they just happen to be women,” the Luther star said.

“They’re great players and they deserve their place right alongside a male player. So for me it’s great, it’s a long time coming — it’s about the shifting of change.

“For young female footballers who are looking at the sport and seeing an opportunity like this and going ‘wow okay, this is a world stage and this is where we can be,’ I think it’s a great beacon and I want to encourage more of that.”

Elba will feature on the coaching team for the World XI this year, alongside Robbie Keane and Arsène Wenger.

Women at Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2022

Williams — whose 172 senior caps are unrivaled by any other player, regardless of gender — will be joined by compatriots Eniola Aluko and Anita Asante on the England team this year.

Aluko is currently the sporting director for the National Women’s Soccer League team Angel City. During her playing career, she won three Women’s Super League titles and two FA Cups with Chelsea and earned 102 England caps.

Asante also enjoyed a decorated career on the pitch, helping Arsenal win the unprecedented quadruple back in 2007, which included the Gunners becoming the first and only British team to win the Women’s Champions League.

Chelsea Women’s manager Emma Hayes and actress Vicky McClure will spearhead the Soccer Aid for UNICEF England team, alongside Redknapp and Seaman.

Redknapp echoed Elba’s sentiment when talking about the level of female talent this year.

“It’s great, when you look at the women we’ve got here, they’re fantastic, the skill is unbelievable,” the former Portsmouth and Spurs manager said.

“The standard and quality is just getting better and better all the time.”

Grimes, who will make her third Soccer Aid for UNICEF appearance this year, is hoping to become the first woman to score at the event.

She will represent the World XI and will be joined by American duo Carli Lloyd and Heather O’Reilly.

The former USA internationals both found success with their country at the World Cup and the Olympic Games. Lloyd also represented Manchester City during a time in her career de ella, while O’Reilly enjoyed a stint at Arsenal.

With the biggest female representation ever, can a woman finally get herself on the scoresheet at Soccer Aid for UNICEF?

Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2022 takes place on Sunday 12th June at the London Stadium. A family of four can attend the game for just £60 – buy your tickets at socceraid.org.uk/tickets

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