Rosie has emerged an everyday icon. Not only is she one of a handful of British-Asians to have played professional football at a higher league level, but also a resounding role model for women in the UK within a typically male-dominated sport. “The amount of messages and interest I get from young women from different backgrounds is incredible,” she told us.
“I could not have imagined this sort of buzz when I was growing up.” Playing football recreationally – “kicking the ball while learning to walk” - as a youngster when it was unusual to see women on the pitch, Rosie is now part of the incredible cultural explosion that is women’s football in the mainstream. “The Women’s World Cup has definitely been a big factor in this,” the young pro asserted. The tournament founded in 1991, “it's meant that people can see the coverage over the years.”
Indeed, boosted by online engagement, this year the FIFA Women’s World Cup was broadcasted through different media across the nation: from television screens in local pubs to the gleeful headlines of national papers. The Guardian reported the ‘viewing-figures records shattered across continents.’ More and more people, it seems, wanted to watch. Rosie further commented on the unparalleled universality of the sport: “it’s a game that brings everyone together – regardless of their upbringing.”
Left-footed, Rosie plays left-sided central mid-fielder: a powerful position with a simple rationale. “Within the front three, you can create space ahead of you to drive the ball in. You can afford to tackle another player one on one further up the pitch too. You can take risks. The left-side also means I can use my speed and persistence, and cross balls in, which I love. It suits my frame – I’m smaller so I couldn’t play the position of centre back.” Rosie has notably played for West Ham United F.C Women, being offered a professional contract to stay on with the team when it phenomenally soared up two divisions to qualify for the women’s super league this summer.
“Playing at Wembley last year for the FA Cup Final was definitely a highlight. It was the first year I was playing at such a high level too. Starting out the year, the West Ham girls and I would not have expected to see ourselves make it quite like that– it’s been amazing.” However, Rosie was just as open about the psychological pressure experienced in such a high-octane, elevated environment. “Being the only footballer to come from an ‘amateur’ background, there were times when I have felt overwhelmed. I’d have mind games going on, thinking I might not be able to kick the ball the way I’d done so many times before.”
Here, Rosie mentioned her twin sister, Mollie, also a talented footballer with whom she has played for the majority of her life. The girls have played for clubs such as Tottenham, Spurs, Cambridge, London Bees and finally, West Ham. Although Molly did not play for West Ham at the championship, she continued to be by her sister’s side: “she was there when I needed to talk – she’d help me get perspective. When I did feel negative, it was a matter of identifying it, and acting on it positively: surrounding myself with good people and reminding myself of good times: from goals I’d scored to great memories with friends and family.”
Indeed, the world’s most loved sport, football is as much about the social setting as it is the technical skills. Rosie summarised: “ultimately, it’s a mindset. You’ve got to be composed, present and focussed – that’s what lets your talent be. There’s the game, and then there’s the by-products of what surrounds it: public speaking, the relationship with your team and manager, the enormous public gaze and, of course, the confidence within yourself.” This extends to gender diversity in the sport. Rosie, who has played in mixed teams from a young age, recalls the absence of a social taboo as pivotal in her connection to the sport: “I was never made to feel uncomfortable playing football. It never felt alien. Our dad was always passionate about Mollie and I playing. It was never wrong so we felt equal – playing alongside boys simply strengthened that belief.”
Having her twin sister to confide in has also helped Rosie feel supported interpersonally over time. “Having someone there has really boosted both of us. It’s easier not to listen to any negative comments and we always have each other’s backs. It’s great to have had someone to partner up with within and outside the sport.” This nascent bond of sisterhood has only evolved into a close female friendship in adult years: perhaps more secure because of an unspoken affinity. “Not having Mollie by my side over the last year has been hard, but has shown we are individuals. We rely on each other, but also lead independent lives.” The twins have earlier run their own football coaching academy with an impressive 18 bases across the UK, still recruiting today. Rosie spoke on their new future prospects: “Now, we are both stepping away from playing football, turning to commentary and the media. Over the last month, for example, I’ve been covering the women’s super league.”
However, the young star finally emphasised how football has created an invaluable emotional foundation. Often considered an intense and sometimes overly competitive game, Rosie counteracted: “It’s not just been a sport or a profession for me. Football has taught me good habits for life. You go through critical stages when you’re growing up as a girl. As well as self-esteem, I think you can really be tested by distractions as a teenager. But Mollie and I always kept close to the sport: going for workouts and football practice, for example, instead of drinking and heavy partying.” Now, a warm certainty in Rosie’s voice, that stable base has extended into a mature openness towards the changing challenges of life. “I’ve learned so much. It feels like the right time to explore something new.”
And so, embodying such well-rounded energy, Rosie doesn’t just demonstrate a unique talent, but also the grass-roots power of her inherently democratic sport. Gradually aligning the marginalised with traditional authority, the external environment with deserving ability, and physical actions with inner conviction, the world of football comes to represent the strength of individuality. For that is its core: “allow yourself to be in the moment,” Rosie advised up and coming players, “and don’t get caught up in the context – your future, or what people think.” Indeed, the structure of Club football itself allows for any team to be able to rise: even those at the very bottom. “It’s been a matter of changing wider social perceptions,” Rosie commented. “People needing to see different people represented – seeing the game itself in a dynamic way.”
“Playing at Wembley last year for the FA Cup Final was definitely a highlight”
"I use my speed and persistence, and can cross balls in, which I love”