Footballer and musician Jess King has released ‘Raise Us Up’ with Max Mezzowave, a song about the struggles women face in the footballing world.
The rap song was penned by Jess as a rallying call to football and to the wider world that when it comes to gender inequality in the game and the world, enough is enough.
A portion of the profits from the song will be donated to Jess’s club, Lewes FC, which is the first and only club in the world to pay its male and female footballers the same.
Here, Jess talks about her footballing career, her music and what inspired her to write ‘Raise Us Up’.
Tell us a bit about how you got into football? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?
I’ve always loved football and started my first team when I was six. I knew from an early age that I wanted to pursue football.
I grew up playing for Liverpool where I spent 10 years before moving to Canada to go to university on a football scholarship. While I was there we won three conference titles and two national titles which was a very special time in my life. I then moved on to play for Everton, ISC Gunners (Seattle), FC Basel (Switzerland), USV Jena (Germany), Kolbotn (Norway) before moving back to England to play for Lewes FC.
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What’s the best thing about the job? I think just experiencing life and playing in various top leagues around the world has been the best part.
And who did you get into music? What inspired you to write ‘Raise Us Up’?
I have been writing since I was about 14 but it was always something that I kept quiet and didn’t tell anybody. It is a hobby and something that I enjoy doing but has always been on the back burner because of time and focusing on football.
With ‘Raise Us Up’, it’s a topic that many female footballers will relate to and I was encouraged to write something just after the world cup last year. I wanted to get across the message to recognise how much women sacrifice in order to play football just because they love it. I wanted to also acknowledge those from the past who paved the way and acknowledge the progress that has taken place within the women’s game. And, the main objective was to inspire and uplift people. I wanted people to feel good and be able to relate and feel connected to the song. Just because “the odds are against you” so to speak, doesn’t mean that you can’t or you shouldn’t pursue what you want in life – and that is a message wider than just football.
How do you envisage the future of women’s football?
I would like to see more funding and more coverage. It would be awesome if both the WSL (Women’s Super League) and Championship were both full time/professional and there were not so many women scraping to get by – even on a “professional” team.
How can people really make a difference and help bring more equality into the women’s game?
I think listening and making small changes often. I don’t think it’s realistic or feasible to make one big change but as time moves on and more support is provided I believe that the women’s game will continue to improve. For example, one small change that could take immediate effect is the FA prize money.
What do you love most about football?
I love playing in front of a crowd and scoring goals. I love being part of a good team and enjoying being around them off the pitch too. I love the feeling of reaching a goal or overcoming adversity. And I love how it connects and brings people together.
What obstacles have you faced in your footballing career and how did you overcome them?
I think just the uncertainty of not knowing where you will play next. Many women’s teams will only give one-year contracts so it leaves many without long term stability. I think moving around has been great but also hard as I wasn’t able to settle anywhere. And financial difficulties at times.
Also, I think at different times during my career when I haven’t been playing and learning how to respond to that in the best possible way to ensure that I continue to get better and not letting a negative experience define me as a person or a player.
What advice do you have for girls who love football and want to get involved?
I would just say keep playing and keep trying new things. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and if you can’t do something keep working on it as you might surprise yourself! Football is for everyone so don’t be afraid to get involved! And, most importantly enjoy it!
What’s next for you, what are your future plans?
I’m not sure what’s next but I want to keep playing for as long as possible and hopefully release a few more songs.