Arsenal Legend breaks England record ahead of Crunch Campaign

After a fabulous job by Amanda last week, I’m afraid you
are stuck with me again. Women’s club football is still on a summer break and
there isn’t a whole lot of exciting news. There is however the prospect of the
UEFA Women’s Championship (aka Women’s Euros) in July. Sweden will be hosting
the competition which starts on the 10th of July and goes on all the
way up to 28th of July.

England were the
2009 runners up, losing the final 6-2 to the Germans. This time around they
will start their campaign with two friendlies (A 1-1 vs. Japan yesterday that
saw a fine performance despite four regulars missing and Sweden in Uddevalla on
the 4th of July) and the opening match versus Spain on the 12th
of July.

It’s a matter of
great pride that six Arsenal Ladies players have been selected for the
championship squad – Rachel Yankey (who beat former men’s goalkeeper, Peter
Shilton’s record of England 125 caps earlier this week), Ellen White, Alex
Scott, Steph Houghton, Jordan Nobbs and Kelly Smith. The Gunners Town team
would like to wish them and the rest of the Lionesses a successful campaign; I
know that I will be tuning in to the action as much as I can. I urge the rest
of you to do the same and support our Ladies! (The Championship will be
broadcast live on BBC)

For those of you
planning to go watch the August Continental Cup semi-final at the ground, has released the confirmed details. Ticket details will follow soon
but it will be held on the 8th of August with a 7.45 KO. The Ladies
will play hosts to Everton at Meadow Park, Boreham Wood FC as they aim to get
one step closer to defend a trophy they have won in both years since its 2011

Over the next
few weeks, I hope to bring you a bit of coverage from the Euros but also
highlight the similarities, differences and state of women’s football in other
countries around the world. This will be an ongoing project so anyone who has
something to share, is interested and more knowledgeable in this area is more
than welcome to get in touch and work with me in order to do this subject

Moving away to a
bit of a different topic – I was looking over some of my older journal entries
(Yes I keep a journal, I’m a writer, c’mon!) and realised that so many of my
memories over the last 11 years (read: since I started watching football) are
linked to the game or have some sort of association with it. Now I’m sure that
every supporter of any sport will have a similar situation but I could never
have imagined that my football obsession would aid me in settling into my new
life in England when I first joined Uni there. Nor have I really paid attention
to the fact that so many of my friendships since then have begun because of a
shared love of the game. Maybe my love of sports has given me an easy way out –
you generally won’t find a better conversation starter with even the least
amiable strangers and you can find yourself having an intense discussion at the
most unexpected of places.

Being an
international student on a university campus at the weekends is never the most
enjoyable thing in the world with many of the locals opting to make the quick
drive home. But because of football it never really bothered me most of the
time. I would be at the campus pub (or another local one in Ormskirk) for a
large part of Saturday and Sunday, with a laptop or notebook so I could
simultaneously do my work while watching the football, even the La Liga action.
It didn’t bother me that on most occasions I was the only girl, or one of the
only ones actually interested in the game. The chance to have my own solitude
within a social environment was the ideal atmosphere for someone like me and I
ended up having random conversations with many of the guys there, old and
young, simply because they were curious about this lone Indian girl taking
notes from a range of media and creative writing related books but stopping to
yell and swear at the screen if necessary. Later, when I got to know more of
the weekend regulars, I’d sit with them. Sports, for all the pitfalls of crazed
fans and what not, give rise to an automatic sense of kinship, of bonds, of
communal, collective suffering and happiness. And it is only in retrospect that
I’ve understood its potent power in helping one cope with a new life in a
foreign country.

I’ve got more
stories but in the meantime I’d love to hear yours! As I’ve said in the past,
this column is about the female perspective on all things Arsenal so please
shoot me a line if you ever want to contribute, Gunners Fair wants your stories
and points of view. Before I sign off, here
is a link of the Arsenal Ladies letting loose on their Japan tour in 2011. An
interesting tidbit is that one of our former foreign players, Mihoko Ishida is
now a popstar back home in Tokyo!

Clear Eyes. Full
Hearts. Can’t Lose.

Anushree Nande

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