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Girls and football : Reading FC Women's Mascot

When I was pregnant with Loops I was asked what if I wanted a boy or a girl, at the time I thought I wanted a boy, but would have been happy with a girl but then again I thought wanted a girl but would have been happy with a boy. I don't do the whole pink or blue thing so the nursery was yellow and green and giraffes, we had names lined up for all eventualities and when Loops arrived I was thrilled to have a girl. When I was pregnant with Mook I was, again, asked if I wanted a boy or a girl but with the added slant of "oh expect you want a boy now?", wrong I didn't mind what I had. When I was pregnant with Laree not only did I have the boy or girl questions I also had the "oh expect you want a boy now" but with the added bonus of "bet you want a boy now". No, none of that. I really didn't mind but I did know that she was a girl so I kept everyone guessing, even Big Welsh!

As the girls grew up and did their thing Loops started kicking a football around at school and when she had after school football Mook began taking an interest in football. I will admit now that at that point I had no idea about football, it didn't feature in my school days, my friends weren't particularly into football and Big Welsh favoured rugby and cricket. When my friend Clare asked if Mook wanted to play football I asked her what on earth for? She said she might enjoy it and she is after all sporty. Mmmmmh. So Mook did and she took to it like a duck did to water. And water there was on a number of times when I stood on the line and shouted words of encouragement or embarassment I'll let her decide!

And so it came to be that Laree started kicking around with her sisters and started playing football witht her friends at school, soon after joining Wokingham and Emmbrook U10s. Clare was great taking Mook to her games when Big Welsh wasn't around so I could take Laree to her games. As the number of games Laree played increased so did her skill and determination. At every opportunity she would be outside (or inside - mind my china and glass) and would watch football on telly giving her comments on the games and then practising what she had seen. Laree was incredibly lucky to be coached at school by a a Reading FC Women's player none other than the incredible Reading and England Fran Kirby. Her confidence rocketed and she was soon covering every part of the pitch and taking her turn in goal, ably coached by Mook who was off games with glandular fever.

A few weeks ago I got a text from my friend, Reading defender and Herbalife consultant Gemma Sims asking if Laree would like to be a mascot for the forthcoming Reading v Millwall game. Of course I knew the answer but I had to check with Laree. It came as no surprise when her smile lit up her whole face and she said YES which we knew she would! So the plans were made and I dropped her off at the Players' entrance (with my heart again in my mouth and my eyes a little bit wobbly!). The next time we saw her she was on the pitch warming up (or is that standing up?) with the team. My daughter. My youngest daughter was on the pitch at the Mad Stad with her favourite players. Heart was firmly in mouth and my eyes blinked away! Fran wasn't playing but she was there and made the mascots giggle and my eyes scratched again. After the warm up the girls were presented with a signed shirt and Laree's smile was there for all to see. Of course I could only see a little glimpse of her smile as I was battling with those tears of pride!

After the warm up the team went back in the tunnel only to reappear with the linesmen and the Millwall team, there was my Laree walking onto the pitch and as I write this my eyes are reacting to ahem *hayfever* so you can only imagine how proud and emotional I was.

Laree then came to sit with us and and had THE biggest smile on her face. Her eyes never left the pitch as she drank in the skill, techique and team work. The game was won and Laree went to bed in her signed shirt with a very huge and content smile on her face.

I've looked through the gallery and I think that this photo is my favourite, thank you to James Prickett Photographer for capturing Laree's concentration.

Thank you also to Gemma, Ciara and Reading FC Women for making a happy girl happier!


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