With the SSE Women’s FA Cup semi-finals fast approaching, the FA’s new competition, “Make Dreams Goals”, is underway. The aim is to get young football fans to share their dreams with the chance of winning a trip to the Final at Wembley in May.
Players of the competition’s semi-finalists have been supporting the competition this week. We caught up with Chelsea’s Claire Rafferty ahead of the big game on Monday:
GOTB: It’s an important game coming up against Birmingham City on Monday. What does it mean for Chelsea to be in the semi-finals once again?
CR: Well obviously there’s a lot of expectation and we’re keen to right the wrongs that happened last time against Arsenal in the final. We’re really motivated to get the win against Birmingham but it’s going to be a difficult game. Birmingham are always a tough side. They’re very organised, especially under new management, and they’ve had some great additions to their team.
GOTB: As you said, they’re a very tough side and being so early in the season how do approach a big game like this?
CR: We’re in pre-season still, so it is hard to come into these competitive games so sporadically. But we’ve had a lot of friendlies and there is lot of depth in the squad. We’ve been training really hard in preparation for these games, that’s why we’ve been in pre-season so long. We’ve had lots of classroom sessions and pitch sessions to get our game plan sorted and hopefully you’ll see all of that on Monday.
GOTB: You’ve had a lot of new signings over the summer, a lot of exciting new signings, and they seem to have hit the ground running in the friendlies. How great is for morale to have them around the camp in Chelsea?
CR: It’s great to have such fantastic names around, they give a lot of strength and depth to the team and it’s a real confidence booster that we have players of such quality who have the ability to change games. Everyone plays their part in the team, everyone has their strengths and attributes that benefit the team.
GOTB: Obviously the experience of playing at Wembley is a really special one. What does it mean as a player to get to play on that stage?
CR: It’s what you dream about when you’re younger to walk out on to that pitch. When I was younger, I used to play in the garden with my brother and pretend I was running out on to big stadiums like Wembley. It’s a really special moment – the crowd and the atmosphere are great. It’s always nice to be able to bring everyone together on occasions like that. Obviously the football is important as well but it’s more than that, it’s about bringing people together.
GOTB: You’ve been at the club a long time, what’s the best thing about wearing the blue shirt?
CR: I think for me, it’s that we are like a little family and everyone really cares about you. When I put that shirt you know, I’m really proud and I really respect the work that goes in from all the staff and the players. And particularly this year as well, we learnt an awful lot from last season’s disappointment and I think it’s going to be a really special year for us.
GOTB: So how important are initiatives like the ‘Make Dreams Goals’ initiative to get young girls inspired in the game?
CR: They’re really important. We’ve just had a group of girls down now and it’s that interaction and sharing of your story. They all have the same aspirations that I had when I was their age and it’s helping them realise that they can come true and understanding the work that goes into it. These dreams don’t just come to you, you have to work very hard.
The FA’s Make Dreams Goals initiative aims to encourage young football fans to share their footballing dreams, before turning a chosen few into reality. Entrants have until Monday 17th April to submit their dreams with postboxes present on matchday at Solihull Moors or online at www.thefa.com/makedreamsgoals