Women’s football: How I made a career out of the sport I love

Danielle Gibbons is the goalkeeper for Blackburn Rovers Ladies.

My football journey started when I was about six.

Playing in the living room with my dad, the radiator acting as the goal and a rolled up pair of socks as the ball.

We would spend hours playing and this is one of my earliest sporting memories.

Growing up I was best friends with two boys, Jack and Zak. If we weren’t playing football and ruining my parent’s garden we were somewhere else getting muddy and going on adventures in all weather.

Joining my first football team

In 2002 I joined the first-ever Euxton Girls FC team and spent several years playing, moving from outfielder to goalkeeper.

My parents also spent many hours stood in all weathers, chauffeuring me around the country.

From here I moved to Preston North End where I was scouted for England U19s and Liverpool where I signed and played for seven years as a full-time professional footballer, playing football with my best friends every day as my job.

It was what dreams were made of, and it’s a dream that is within reach for everyone.

It doesn’t matter how or when you start your journey, if you have the best kit money can buy, or if you play with old socks. Everyone has to start somewhere and who knows where your journey may lead.

Inspired by my football team

While I was at Liverpool, on July 6, 2015, I had brain surgery to remove a benign brain tumour.

Even though I was playing at the highest level it was my teammates who helped to inspire me during my recovery in the same way that they are still inspiring the next generation now.

Just three months after my operation I made my Champions League debut in Italy, surrounded by my football family.

My advice to budding footballers

My advice to anyone who loves football, or just sport, in general, is to give it a go.

I’ve made so many good friends, some of which will stay in my life forever. I’ve had experiences that I would never have even dreamt of, like spending nearly four weeks in Russia, winning a gold medal with team GB in the University Games, a preseason tour in South Africa, traveling to amazing countries, playing for England and most of all changing for the better as a person and a footballer.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, shouldn’t or won’t be able to do anything, especially play football.

I’m completely deaf in one ear after my brain surgery and that didn’t stop me from doing what I love and having some of the best experiences of my life so far.

It won’t always be easy and sometimes the commitment you make is a challenge for yourself and those around you but the benefits and good times make it all worthwhile.

Being involved in sport is a part of my life that will always be there, even if it means shuffling around a football pitch with a walking stick when I’m 80 years old!

Get inspired

On the day you question why you chose to run around outside on a cold December night, think about the people that have inspired you to start, and that they once did exactly the same thing.

You can be the inspiration for someone else when you grow up. You can be the person that they have posters of on their wall. You can be anyone who you want to be. But you won’t know unless you give something a try, and you don’t know who you could be inspiring in the process.  

Useful links

Find out more about women’s football at: www.thefa.com/womens-girls-football

Learn more about Rovers Ladies at: www.rovers.co.uk/teams/ladies/

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1 COMMENT

  1. Danielle
    Thank you, this was a truly inspirational article. It was great to hear you map out the ups and downs of your life’s journey which certainly swung from highs to lows. The messages you insert are for all of us no matter our age, I am 65 and found so much in this.
    Thanks again and we are truly fortunate to have you at Blackburn Rovers Ladies both in your courage and excellent goalkeeping skills

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