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As Mars renew FA partnership, we hear from a mum in Hampshire who's enjoying football

The FA and Mars Wrigley Confectionery are delighted to announce the renewal of their partnership for a further four years, with an increased focus on supporting greater equality, diversity and inclusion at every level of the game. Mars Wrigley will extend its role as official supporter of the England team and official partner to the FA Mars Just Play programme until July 2022. Below, we hear about one of the many successful Just Play programmes which are taking place across the country.

Wednesday 28 Mar 2018
There's no shortage of participants for mums' football with the Just Play programme at Knightwood Leisure Centre in Southampton

Our group started originally because I couldn’t find anywhere to play football.

When I was a girl at school I was never allowed to play, we asked at secondary school if we were allowed to play and they said no because it was a boy’s game and girls could not play football!

Lizzie Horner
  • DOB: 02/12/76
  • From: Romsey, Hampshire
  • Occupation: Teaching assistant
  • Just Play: Mums' football
  • Where: Knightwood Leisure Centre, Southampton

I started my teaching career and there were still no opportunities to play football, nothing at all. I still had a passion for it though and one day my eldest daughter finally decided she liked football and wanted to give it a go, so she went down to a session at Romsey Town FC.

I ended up becoming a coach there and I’ve done my FA level one this year, but I still wanted to play myself. I also wanted a sport I could play and I’m not very good in the gym, I cannot stand it and get too bored.

But put a football in front of me and I’ll run after it until I’m completely dead on my feet, and also it’s a really good way to make friends.

I saw in my daughter’s team that they really bonded together and the more I talked about it the more I found people wanted to play and wanted to have a go.

So I contacted Flo Lunn at Hampshire FA, who I’d spoken to before, and she was well up for it and started running our sessions.

Lizzie Horner in action at mums' football in Southampton


The sessions have been going since October. Initially it was through the mums at Romsey Town, and then it’s spread to some of my work colleagues and then friends of friends.

Both my girls play now, my five-year-old’s playing at Helen Hartshorn’s soccer school and it’s really nice for them to see women playing football.

The sessions are fun. It’s a combination of drills to build our skills up, some fitness and trying to get mobile, then we normally finish with a game.

It’s the first time I’ve played football regularly for over 20 years, the first time I did it I just felt complete euphoria afterwards and I had the biggest grin on my face ever.

I was dead on my feet and the muscles still hurt, the body doesn’t move as well as it did when I was 20, but I absolutely love it and it’s a great way to get some exercise and have a giggle.

For more information about how you can attend a Just Play session, please follow the link or search ‘FA Mars Just Play’ online.

NB: On Tuesday, a selection of key national sport and marketing media were at Wembley for an exclusive event to announce the partnership renewal with discussions about the history and future of the partnership under the new agreement in a panel discussion.

Among the panel was Sue Campbell, Phil Neville, Fara Williams and Danielle Carter to speak about the benefits to the women’s game and England Blind trio Jonathan Pugh, Dan English and Roy Turnham who had just returned from world championship duty in Japan, where the Three Lions squad finished second.

Don’t leave your love of football back in the day. Find out about availability of sessions in your local area below:

Find local Just Play session

Read more details on the renewed partnership via the attached document below.

Southampton fan Lizzie Horner has enjoyed mums' football in Southampton courtesy of the Just Play programme


Useful Resources

By Lizzie Horner