Pretty much from the time I could walk, I’d be messing about with a football. Later on, I would be in the field behind the house either having a kickabout, not perfecting my keepy-uppy or just trying to keep up with the boys.
So why the interest in football, you might ask? Well, it’s fun and arguably the best sport in the world. It doesn’t need fancy kit – some jumpers will usually do. You don’t even need to speak the same language. I’ve played on pitches in Africa where the game would stop for elephants. It doesn’t matter that I’m a girl if I can slot in a pass for my side and score.
Back at home, this simplicity explains the sense of community that football creates, not only to your team but also within our local villages, towns and cities.
Football at all levels and especially at grassroots is so important in bringing people together, whether that’s through playing, coaching or turning out to support a family member. That sense of belonging and being proud of where you are and what you do can be seen throughout the country. More seriously, the benefits of getting out and keeping active, not only for physical health but also mental health and wellbeing, should not be underestimated. I am not doing enough and will definitely be doing more soon.
All too often I’ve seen and heard examples of men who are the life and soul of the party – or of someone you’d never think was struggling, but they are – and they can’t or won’t talk about what’s on their mind or the challenges they face. Football’s camaraderie helps to break this isolation and encourages people to get out and talk.
That’s why I’ve joined the APPG for UK Parliamentary Football Club. We’re a group of MPs and peers from all parties playing football to promote and support good causes.
Want to play with the lads and me? Head to parliamentary.soccer/#contact and leave your details.
The Wacky Side of APPG
Whatever your interest, there’s probably a group for that, including…
This APPG promotes the sport of American football in the UK. Chaired by Peter Bone, the group has its own website and Twitter account where regular updates on matches are posted. Updates sometimes include photos of APPG members meeting American-football icons.
The APPG for bridge aims to develop an awareness of the benefits of bridge, particularly for young people and for senior citizens, and to promote enjoyment of the game and bridge events with the legislatures of other countries. The English Bridge Union provides secretariat services for the group, which is chaired by Bob Blackman. One of the officers is Baroness Henig, who has played for Lancashire since the 1990s.
Chaired by Ian Liddell-Grainger, the great-great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria, the purpose of the APPG for cider is to promote the cause of cider as a drink, raise its profile. and to inform and educate people about its role and importance, especially in rural areas. The group holds an annual reception that is funded by the National Association of Cider Makers.