West Ham goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold couldn’t find female sports heroes when she was younger.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t have anything like this,” says Arnold. sky sports on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
Born into a rugby family in Australia, Arnold was on NRL television every week and she “definitely didn’t watch women’s football”.
“Honestly, it wasn’t that high at the time,” said the Australian international.
International Women’s Day is a very important day, not only for women in sports or football, but for the whole world, and I don’t think we get enough recognition for it. As a soccer player, I didn’t have many female icons to look up to. I think it’s very important for us footballers to pave the way for the next generation of footballers.
It wasn’t until the age of 16 that Arnold really noticed the Matildas, Australia’s women’s soccer team, and those role models were in his life.
However, the lack of women in the sport that Arnold grew up in is changing rapidly, and she is one of them.
Arnold still can’t believe when young fans ask her for an autograph after a game, but she is well aware of the role she and the rest of the Women’s Super League are playing in paving the way for the next generation.
“It’s a bit surreal for me,” Arnold says. “It means a lot, you don’t live your daily life thinking you are some sort of icon for young girls – and boys these days. This is a very important thing that we must consider in order to inspire this young generation that is going through this. »
Facetime with Kerr ahead of Chelsea visit
The WSL has given this next generation of fans plenty of female sports heroes to look up to, and few are much bigger than Arnold’s Australian teammate and Chelsea striker Sam Kerr.
Arnold and Kerr will have to put their friendship on hold Thursday night when the Chelsea champions travel to West Ham. Heaven sport.
Thursday, March 10, 19:30.
On Monday night, they shared a FaceTime call. “We don’t really talk too much about football,” Arnold replies when I ask if there were any jokes about the game during the conversation. However, she expects that there will be some jokes after the final whistle.
His relationships with international teammates have been important to Arnold since arriving in England as many Australians also handle their WSL trade, especially in London.
“It helps a lot, obviously we’re all from Australia, but the group that came, we’ve honestly grown together since we were 15 or 16,” she told Sky Sports.
“So we are actually very close. And to have that, those girls that are outside of West Ham, just to take a little break from that, that’s really important. I think it helped all of us a lot. »
World-class Kerr and Chelsea threats
Arnold knows she’s in for a big test against Kerr, whom she describes as a “world class striker”, but is wary of not getting too distracted by Australia’s top scorer and forgetting other threats Chelsea poses.
“Obviously she has that pace up front, but the runs she makes from behind are very smart and she is a very smart footballer and she knows where to be at the right time,” adds Arnold.
“She poses this threat up front and you need to keep her and the rest of their front line under control. »
Chelsea are in contention for titles in a row but are facing a stern test from Arsenal, who are eight points high at the top of the table. However, the champions have three games left.
Any points lost could play a key role in the title race, adding another level of importance to Thursday’s London derby against West Ham.
“I think we are nearing the end of the season and this is a big moment for all teams, but especially for Chelsea who are fighting at the top of the league,” Arnold said.
“We are trying to approach the game the same as any other game, but at the same time I think we have to be mindful of the threat they pose with the strikers and their talent. »
West Ham goals for the season
West Ham are eighth in the WSL table, but a win over Chelsea on Thursday could equal them on points with fifth-placed Manchester City, who play Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Arnold is pleased with the improvement she has seen in his side after some disappointing points early in the season and is optimistic about the rest of the campaign.
“I think the season went pretty well,” Arnold said. “We started the season dropping too many points in the final minutes of a few games, so I think as we progressed we did pretty well.
“I think we are a few points away from having the best result of the season. We have a pretty tough series of games ahead of us, so it’s important for us to stay at the same level at the moment, and like I said, take one game at a time and move on. »
Watch West Ham v Chelsea in the Women’s Super League Thursday at 19:30 live on Sky Sports Football; start at 19:45