Today marks the 2022 International Women’s Day, and, as last year, here at the Nottingham Sport, we catch up with several of our beloved county’s finest, female athletes (not that we need a reason to) for a chat – here we speak to Mansfield Town Ladies star Monica Bowley.
With this years’ theme looking towards that of gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow, a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination for a diverse, equitable, inclusive world, and for Monica Bowley, club captain of Mansfield Town Ladies Football Club, has double the experiences of females in what has, for many years, been predominantly a male sport.
“Yes, my daughter Ruby plays for our Under 10s (who celebrates her birthday on Friday, is also coached by Monica’s husband, Steven Bowley),” began the Mansfield skipper.
“She’s a strong defender and plays for a mixed (boys and girls) side, but mainly against boys – but she more than holds her own.
“Myself though, I’ve been playing since I was what, 7-8-years-old, and have always been a sporty person.
“I started (full women’s football) with Clipstone at 15, then had a few fantastic years at Welbeck Welfare where we were unstoppable, winning everything, including a few league titles.”
At Mansfield though, and having opposed the Stags on many occasions as a player herself, Monica has found her home, although her position has changed somewhat in the past few years – it comes with age, but she’s far from ready to hang up her boots just yet.
The arrival though, of Head Coach Andi Bell, has pushed them up a few notches as well, something which has shown both on, and off the field of player; the respect is there, as is the camaraderie.
“I’ve been here for what, six years now (she thinks), continued Monica.
“This club have always been local rivals for me, at any club I’ve been with, but it was the right time for me (coming to Mansfield) and I’ve not regretted it, even once.
“The past few years as well, considering all else that’s been going on, has been great and we’ve continually improved, in fact we’ve got some really talented girls coming through the system.
“Yes, it’s been hard, going from continually playing, to next to nothing at all, and you could only do so much to be fair.
“This, now though, is probably one of the best sides we’ve had here, and with a good variety of players, a variety which, for a time, had me feeling threatened for my place in the side if I’m honest – but now I’m loving being a part of what is strong, back four.”
As for this International Women’s Day, and with the Bowley’s being a footballing family, Ruby as mentioned plays the beautiful game, as does her elder brother, George, although as Monica states, “that’s to get him off his X Box more than anything,” but they enjoy it.
Monica though, in looking back to when she started out playing, added: “Females playing football it wasn’t encouraged.
“Since the European Championships though, there’s been a sudden increase, in every capacity, women spreading their wings more.
“Granted the coverage has improved, and it’s nice to be noticed, although we’d still like more – but it’s good to get the support in which we do.
And what about moving forward, both for herself in the sport, and for the way in which women’s sport is portrayed?
“I plan on staying with the Stags until I hang up my boots (a ten year testimonial is three-four years away), although I’m not sure I want to coach – I’ll still be involved in some form though, on the sidelines, especially with George and Ruby playing.
“As for women’s sport, and in speaking to parents say, there’s not a fuller interest, but it does increase as the sport itself does.
“It’s addictive, lots of adrenaline, and that’s what I’m like when with Ruby.”
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @MTFCLadies Monica Bowley with her daughter Ruby.