Tottenham Hotspur Women’s Team on Gaming and Representation in Football

Getty Images / Paul Harding

Image Source: Getty

On Sunday, the Adobe Women’s FA Cup final will take place at Wembley Stadium. Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United Women’s teams will both be aiming to win the trophy for the first time in their team’s history. In recent years, we’ve seen an incredible shift in representation for women’s football. According to the Women’s Sports Trust, a record-breaking 46.7 million viewers watched women’s sports on television throughout the year. This change was spearheaded by the Lionesses Euro’s win in 2022. When the women’s squad lifted the trophy, it shifted the trajectory of women’s football in the UK.

However, there are still areas within the football world where women are still lacking representation, like gaming. Ahead of the FA Cup Final, Spurs players talked to PS UK about how the inclusion of female football players in EA Sports “FC Ultimate Team” has translated into overall awareness of women’s football.

How Does it Feel to Load Up EA Sports FC ’24 and See Yourselves and the Full Squad in the Game?

Luana Buhler: When I was growing up, I didn’t even think it would be possible. I don’t think I ever imagined that could happen. It was hard to dream of it because it was just so hard to find female role models. You only could see the men’s side of the football. And now it’s so nice to see that young girls, and even young boys, are able to have female football players as role models. Now it’s the second season that I have my avatar in the game and it feels very exciting.

How Do You Think the Introduction of Women’s Players into the Ultimate Team Mode Has Helped, and Will Help the Growth of the Women’s Game?

Kit Graham: For me as a kid, you wanted to build your favourite team, including all of your favourite players, both male and female. I always see videos of people opening packs and they get so excited. So to have that visibility and equality for women players to be on that is really cool.

Buhler: I think that’s so true – before there was no actual chance of picking female and male players. Now you can actually choose both and have both at the same time. Just like in tennis where men and women can play games together.

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Do You Feel Like the Addition of Women’s Football Into Ultimate Team FC Helps to Get Younger Fans Into the Women’s Game?

Olga Ahtinen: Yes, I’ve had quite a lot of messages from young people telling me “I got your card!” and are always quite excited about it, so that’s nice to hear.

Graham: Growing up, we didn’t have the option to even think about playing women’s football as a professional. However, for kids now they don’t know any different, so whilst it might feel surreal to us because we’ve grown up in a different era, for them that’s all they know, and that’s the cool part. And they’ll say, “This is my favourite player”, but it’s not just for the fact that she’s a woman.

Barbora Votikova: It definitely makes them more involved in women’s football in general, because through Ultimate Teams, you start to look for players, then you start to look at the whole team, and then you start to compare different players. All of a sudden, you get to know all the different players in the women’s game without even noticing it.

Related: Heather Knight: “There’s Opportunities in Cricket Regardless of Sex or Ethnicity”

Is This Something That Friends and Family Speak to You About?

Graham: Yeah, I’ve got family members like little nephews and nieces that play EA FC, and it’s really cool that they can use me if I’m in the squad.

Buhler: It allows them to get more involved and start to know different players and then put their own teams together. That’s really nice to see, because they would have previously only been able to do that with the men’s team, but now they even know the different strengths of different players in the women’s game.

Have You Thought About How the Inclusion of Women Footballers in FC Might Have a Wider Impact of Inspiring People to Take an Interest in Sports and Football?

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Buhler: Yeah, I think that’s one of the main things that we talk about is inspiring the next generation. And as a player, I feel like there are so many more opportunities in life now for women in sports, in whatever capacity, so it’s definitely opening doors. You can see a real change. There’s a lot of influencers involved now, for example, Instagram pages that are dedicated to women’s football. So there’s a lot more visibility for us. I was working with this team who are playing video games, they’re competing in tournaments and world championships in FC and if there are tournaments where those professionals choose a women’s team and compete between each other with women’s teams, that could be the future.

Aaliyah Harry (she/her) is the associate editor at POPSUGAR UK. She writes extensively across lifestyle, culture and beauty. Aaliyah also has a deep passion for telling stories and giving voice to the voiceless. Previously, she has contributed to Refinery29, Grazia UK and The Voice Newspaper.

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