FEMALE IS FOOTBALL: MAXINE GOYNES

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For Maxine Goynes, sports were part of her DNA. With her mother hailing from the UK while having a love for athletics and football (soccer) heritage and her Father playing American football at UCLA, Max was almost destined to be on a field or track. Maxine takes us through her story from growing up in and around the Bay area, to playing college soccer, to moving to LA to pursue a career in acting, fitness, and modeling. Check out our conversation with Maxine as well as the Photoshoot and BTS video. 

Thanks to Nike for providing a few NSW pieces for the shoot.

Follow Maxine: @maxinegoynes

Visit: @NikeLosAngeles

Photos: @richimpossible

So to start things off could you give me your background,  where you’re from grew up and how you got connected with the sport of soccer.

I am originally from Modesto, which is in the Central Valley of Northern California. I considered the Bay Area as a second home as I would commute from Modesto to Pleasanton and play on the club soccer team there. My classes would finish early in high school and then I would commute to practice with the hope of having more opportunity and exposure to continue playing. I earned a scholarship to play soccer at Santa Clara University. I also played in the Olympic development program and was fortunate enough to travel a bit.

My parents met through sports. My mother is British, from Salisbury in the UK and my father actually played American football for UCLA.  After winning the Rose Bowl UCLA decided to send several players over to the UK to teach people how to play American football. My mother was overseeing Sports Promotion for the county Department of Parks and Recreation and one of the facilities happened to be where my father was visiting. Reluctantly, my mom was given the duty to give him a tour and happened to quickly appreciate his sensibility, integrity, and charisma. It reminds me that the universe works in miraculous ways and you never know when you will meet the love of your life. They stayed in contact back and forth after my father left.  Eventually, my father went back to the UK where he and my mother got married and had my older sister Danielle. They moved back to the USA and that was that!  I like to say, soccer and sport especially became part of my DNA.

So there is something really powerful about sport, based on the story of your parents, I would assume you would agree?

Yeah, you really realize the power of athletics.  My parents would have never met, let alone started an interracial relationship at that time had it not been for sport. You have two people from completely different sides of the world with completely different upbringings, but they understood each other.

So do you have siblings? And if so did they play soccer as well?

Yes, I have three sisters and I am the second oldest. We all played soccer. I truly feel that my older sister was probably the best soccer player out of all of us. She actually broke her ankle playing competitively, so it wasn’t really something that she continued to pursue after the injury.  We all had very different temperaments and personalities. Sasha my younger sister  very much the girl picking flowers, wanting everyone to get along, my baby Erica was the strategist and I was always just very intense; a run and gun type. My father coached our teams  and I always subconsciously thought of it as an opportunity to prove to him having daughters wasn’t a consultation of any kind. It was our chance to prove to him that, having athletic daughters was a big win. We really tried to play very strong and I think my mother in fact  the foundation of us being strong women.

I always felt at a crossroads because I  wanted to cheerlead & dance. My parents wanted us to be able to play a sport that they felt was gonna would give us permission to take up space in an aggressive manner. Not to say you can’t do those things within the arts, but soccer is just different. Now I can appreciate that as it was very forward for women’s empowerment. I did always try to find a way to marry those two things; femininity & masculinity.  I was a player that was very assertive but I wore a ribbon in my hair while doing so. I always wanted both and I think that soccer was a way that you can still explore femininity and masculinity. That’s really cool. That’s really the way I kind of put it into perspective.

So can you talk a little about your transition from playing in college to moving into things and career off the field?

I played in college and then while I was in college, the league for women at the time both opened up and also folded. So this was a time where you knew there may be potential to play and then quickly also realized that it may be fragile.

Looking back I definitely start to recognize how fear and a  scarcity mindset can start to affect your decision making. I knew how much my family had sacrificed for me to get an education and wanted to know that I would be able to support myself financially immediately following school.  That can be intimidating, most of us had dedicated our whole life to playing.  Emotionally I decided regardless of pay I was ready to leave playing the game. I was ready to use everything that soccer taught me off the field with new challenges.  I very much recognize that there were women that I played with and I grew up playing with such as Julie Ertz, Christen Press, Kelly O’ Hara and Alex Morgan,  all women who are on the full (USWNT) team that were hungry to play. When I witnessed the level of commitment that they had, I had so much respect for it, but I also knew that it was not for me to continue playing. The plan was to use the sport as a foundation and a stepping stone to build character & relationships. I left soccer in a way that respected, the sport and respected everybody that was still playing.

 So what did you study and get your degree in and how did that lead you to where you are and what you are doing today?

So when I was in school, I studied communication.  I was always interested in business but I actually started to take a communication major because we had a family friend at the time who had a very successful family company and they shared with me how the most difficult thing for them in the hiring process was finding people that really had the social skills to connect with other people. Following soccer,  I earned an internship in the spring of my senior year. IMG was a huge talent firm in sports & hospitality in San Francisco.

And while I was in school, I was asked to be in the NCAA commercial on behalf of women’s soccer. This was the first time that I was working in film and I was in my full kit, but I had hair and makeup on. I was like, what is this? What is this world? What is this about? At the time, I thought I was interested in commentating and hosting. I love film and people but wasn’t sure how I would combine the two interests.

 I will never forget, I had a meeting with Ted Griggs the now president of Comcast Sports Bay area.

He asks me, “Okay, you wake up one Sunday morning and there’s a sports section open of the newspaper and on the table next to it there’s a Vanity Fair. Which one do you pick up first?” I didn’t even have to answer. I knew and he knew. Sports weren’t really what I wanted to do. He looked at me and said, “Go to LA, you love film, you love people, you have the tools to be successful at anything you do but sports in this capacity isn’t for you. Carry it with you, it’s a part of you but not ALL of you.”  So I left and I moved to LA. I’m so grateful for that conversation. I moved to LA, to pursue entertainment and film, and I started my first job with a modeling agency shooting lifestyle and fitness shoots while working as a remote recruiter for visual artists.

How have you seen the industry change since moving to LA as well as what have you seen change in women’s soccer since you stopped playing?

I think that technology, in general, has allowed athletes, specifically female athletes to connect to an audience and allows us as an audience to see how complex, dynamic and layered the women are.

 It’s been beautiful because we would all tune in and watch the World Cup or watch the game and we knew a player for their position. But we didn’t know their position in life. We didn’t know she was a mother, girlfriend, sister, thought leader, and advocate for things that she’s passionate about in society. I feel like it has really allowed us to see the holistic transparent beauty in a human being. It’s moving when you can know anyone’s backstory. When you know a little bit more about what moves them in the world or what fear/concern they have outside of being on the field then you become invested in them even more so.  Yes, people are more connected to their individuality, but I think that also can create a community. I think that when we can collectively appreciate individuals, it strengthens the community.

Do you see elements like players loving sneakers helping the popularity of the game grow?

I think that sneakers allow people to have conversations that maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise. Sneakers act as an ice breaker. They allow us to connect with someone that didn’t come from the same walk of life. When I see someone in this sneaker and now that allows me to have a conversation with her, to feel like she understands different parts of culture outside of her own, and vice versa that’s special.  I feel that seeing women able to show and express themselves through their sneakers can be something very intimate. This is something that we use as a tool to physically move through the world. And so I think it’s just something beautiful no matter if she’s the type of player that wants to keep her classic sneaker on her or she’s wearing something that’s like a collab or whatever it may be. She has one and there’s a story behind why she wears what she wears and what she’s drawn to. And it’s something that allows us to start to explore and be curious about each other.

To stay on the topic of sneakers, what’s your favorite to wear?

Anything that’s a knit material I really love. But also my view has changed a little bit. My father, in 2017, passed away from cancer and it changed the way I see the world. Now when I think about my favorite sneakers and I think about a classic sneaker like low top forces. For me, I’m really drawn to minimalism and focusing on less being more. How I can wear that sneaker in a versatile way is something that I really appreciate. I think that a lot of that has been shaped by life experience and for me.

That is so great, and I have to ask, on the fashion side of things what designer are you rocking the most lately?

I love Jerry Lorenzo and everything he does with Fear of God. When I see his shoes as I’m like,” Oh my goodness!” I am truly moved. What a beautiful way to merge high fashion with streetwear and make it in a timeless kind of look and style with earth tones and color palettes. I really respect that approach of mixing the minimalism and the contemporary. I love it.

Switching gears a little bit, I wanted to ask what are your about your thoughts on the importance of making the game of soccer more accessible to more communites that might have not expereinced the game before?

I think that any time you can bring a more diverse group of people together and that might mean diverse in perspective, culture, race, socioeconomic group, spirituality,  any time we can do that, I find advantages to us all evolving and growing as people. I went to Santa Clara University, which is a private Jesuit university. It’s an expensive university and a beautiful one. There were not many women on the team that looked like me. I remember playing in games and having, little girls come up wanting to get my autograph and what it meant for them to be able to see me on that team.

Wherever there’s a team and a potential for resources, for finances to be made through sport, it means that those people have more opportunity, not only for them being an athlete but for them as a person. So I absolutely do feel that one of the beautiful things about soccer is that it is the biggest and most global sport and you can go to any other country and see people playing, even with a beaten up ball, on dirt fields. In comparison to other sports like wakeboarding or snowboarding or something of this nature, that requires a lot of expensive tools and equipment, soccer is accessible. I do think that is what’s so beautiful about this sport and so many people of different backgrounds are connected to it.

The more diversity that we can get to the sport, the better. It’s also important because the conversations that happen amongst teammates and in the locker room trickle into our lives. There were times that I would have a teammate that grew up in an area where she wasn’t used to being around women that came from my culture but she and I, we loved each other. We were in the fields fighting for each other. We had an appreciation for each other and that trickled into our friendships and to our families and it seeps into the world. There’s this beautiful flowing, essentially like a union that happens through the sport that can be continued into how we treat each other in the world.

Last questionnow that you have been away from the sport as a player for a bit—how do you see soccer having a role in your life going forward?

I personal train women that work in the creative space and want to use my background in storytelling and film to create space for us together. I am focused on MG METHOD which will be a lifestyle brand and extension of my private clientele. I’m not physically playing soccer anymore,  but missed most of all the sisterhood and being able to encourage somebody through adversity and triumph. I enjoy that. Working with the private client whether it be in training or media allows me to do that with women and still remain a teammate and supporter. I’m a system for them to have success in their life.

I also am still very much involved in acting and film. I’ll always find ways to do that. I  have been creating original content most recently and know in my heart I will continue to act. For the last couple of months, we have been training for a feature film directed by R.L. Scott, where we have action choreography. My trainer for this movie, Chyna McCoy was the body double for Morpheus in the Matrix. The interesting thing is that this has been really fascinating to also be able to use my body in new ways. I was a former Division One athlete. I can do this. I have so much respect for how movement, with regard to film and choreography,  is VERY different. I feel like a child in the sense that I am completely starting over and it’s been very new, but I am also looking forward to the potential of doing any sort of action in a movie.

FEMALE IS FOOTBALL: CARA WALLS

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Hailing from Wauwatosa, WI, Cara Walls has repped her state at just about every level within the sport. From winning national championships at the U-18 level with her club team to representing the University of Madison, Wisconsin at the collegiate level Cara has done her state proud. We recently caught up with Cara to learn a bit more about her career, what it was like to play with players like Christen Press and about her new undertaking studying architecture and urban planning.

Follow Cara: @ckaydub

Photos: @ts_xiv

Can you tell us a bit about where you’re from and your early days with the sport?

I’m from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin and I started playing soccer at an early stage. I played for FC Milwaukee, which was the only team in the area that could compete with some of the bigger clubs in the Midwest as well as teams from around the country. My final year of youth soccer we won the U-18 national championship which was really cool.

So you win the U-18 national championship and then get to play college soccer and continue repping your state. What was your collegiate experience like?

I loved the university, the people, just the culture that they created…like competing and being competitive, being a leader. I was able to be captain my junior and senior years. I won some individual awards like the offensive player of the year. It was really a blessing that soccer offered me the opportunity to go to school at Madison and to have an unforgettable experience there.

Post-college, you end up getting drafted and playing for the Chicago Red Stars. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

It was an amazing experience and one that, once again, soccer provided for me. That was beautiful for me. I wasn’t playing as much as I would have liked to though. I think I started two games my first year and five games my second year (and scored two goals). My second year was an improvement but I’m playing with some of the best players in the world at this time. I’m playing behind Christen Press and with some of the greatest players in the world. So although I wasn’t starting as much as I would have liked it was a great experience for me. 

In the middle of my third season there I got released and ended up signing with Saarbrucken in Germany. I loved it there. It was another example of soccer providing me with an amazing opportunity. This time to travel to a new country, meet new people and to just really grow as a person. I played a season there, traveled around Europe quite a lot and had a great time. After that season I wanted to see myself doing different things. I didn’t see myself on the road and traveling for the next five years. So I decided to go to grad school and invest in another career. That’s where I found myself now.

When I started to play there was hardly any women’s football on television. It was not broadcasted and the Dutch Women’s team at that time was not participating at the big tournaments. So I had to watch Eurosport in order to see a little bit of international women’s football and that started during the Women’s World Cup in 99. Especially the USA women’s team stood out for me. They were playing for big crowds, winning the tournament in the end. Really special to see that on tv and to see all these great players from the different countries at that stage.

Soccer has taken you on a number of journeys and now you are on a new one. What’s this career path you are undertaking?

I’m studying architecture and urban planning and I have an emphasis on landscape architecture, sustainable building with an interest in futuristic design and creating community spaces. So that’s the program I’m currently in. And I’m still involved with soccer – I’m an assistant coach for the women’s team.

Architecture is giving me an opportunity to try and find solutions for problems that we have created and to really try and find solutions through sustainability.

Let’s transition for a minute here. We’ve talked about your soccer career. Your love of design and sustainability. What about any interest you have from a cultural standpoint? Is music, or sneakers or fashion anything you have particular interests in?

I love music. It’s like the heartbeat of everything for me so I’m always keeping an eye for new music.  I’m definitely a hip hop and R&B person. I like fashion and sneakers although I’m not a hardcore sneakerhead. I do like cleats though. I like collecting cleats.  I have a thing for old Predators. I probably have five or six pairs of adidas Copas that I’m always wearing. I like the classic adidas three stripe sweatpants. 

I’m a fan of Diadora and some of the old school stuff from the ’90s as well. 

You mentioned your love of music, give us three artists you are into right now.

I would go with Lil Baby. I also like Drake, 2 Chainz, Chance the Rapper, Lauryn Hill. I’m a 2Pac fans as well. We have the same birthday.

You and 2Pac having the same birthday is a fun fact. What’s your favorite Pac song?

God bless the dead. I really like that one. 

So back to soccer, did you watch the Women’s World Cup?

Of course. I went to school with Rose Lavelle. She’s a bit younger than me but we played in college. We played together in my junior and senior years. My senior year we just kind of took over and ended up winning the Big 10. She’s awesome. And it’s been so fun to see her putting on for Wisconsin. She just looks majestic on the ball. She’s insane. 

We’ve seen the women’s side of the sport really grow and the attention around it heightened in recent years. What are your thoughts on that?

I think it’s definitely changed for us for the better. I think social media and the kind of visibility around the sport is important. Seeing an Instagram account for the NWSL, seeing posters and campaigns from Nike. The visibility is important because I don’t think it was there in the previous years and I think it is having an impact. Like the Nike campaigns, the Nike commercials are really powerful and something that had just been missing. It really hasn’t been there like the last 10 years. So I think the advertising and branding itself is really important. Getting the message across that we have a really powerful team. 

We have a certain privilege of actually training these women. And getting them the resources they need to have a really competitive team and that’s, that’s a beautiful thing that not all countries have. So I think being able to support that and kind of showing the progression of women through soccer is really powerful. And I think that’s what’s happening right now. And I think it’s because of the growth of the NWSL. 

There’s really talented women all over the world, but a lot of times they don’t have the resources or the support from the country. So I think it’s really good for the United States and the developed world that were supporting the women’s team. And we have a really powerful women’s team. I think it’s a really good image for younger women that this is an option for them. You know, you can now grow up dreaming of being a professional women’s soccer player because that’s something, even as a really talented young player, I didn’t have that vision because I didn’t really know what existed. I think that’s great. And I think it’s all part of the US moving forward and us progressing as a country of supporting what we have going on with the women’s side of things.

Last questionnow that you have been away from the sport as a player for a bit and are back in school for architecture—how do you see soccer having a role in your life going forward?

I had played soccer for 24 years and it was the dominant thing in my life. So I was really excited to try and do other things in other fields. But I already miss playing soccer and I’ve had a couple of opportunities to play again at a high level. One of which was in a summer league in Iceland. So I want to continue to try and play at some level. 

I’m currently an assistant coach at the college I am attending and I do private sessions as well. I feel like I have a lot to offer and things to pass on to young players and I really enjoy that. So through coaching and being able to spread the knowledge, I’ve learned through the game and then, maybe, getting back and playing in a summer league in Iceland or somewhere closer to home would be great.

MAKING MOVES W/ DENISE JONES

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We had the pleasure to catch up with our own multi-talented and unboxing leading lady Denise Jones. Born and raised in LA she tells about how football represents a family, culture and a global fashion. How her style is inspired by sports, people and mostly her own journey.

Follow Denise: @youknowdenise

Photo Cred: @stephyperea

Can you share your first memory of football?

I was like eight or nine and one day and my dad, he’s really my stepdad, but he raised me like his own, surprised me with an entire Nike set. So it was like a matching Nike Ball, matching Nike shinguards, matching Nike cleats—pink and green. And I didn’t even like pink at the time, but I was just like, wow. I don’t know how he did this, because my brother and I would have hand me downs or play with like tennis shoes. And so when he came out with this, even my brothers had their jaws dropped and I clearly remember this.

I feel like when you’re raised amongst boys, it can go one of two ways. You’re either like the princess or you’re one of the boys. And I was one of the boys. And so, as we all did everything together, we all played soccer together, we all did swim together, we all did karate together. And so when it was time for soccer, that was like my dad’s like forte.

So I fell in love with the sport, just playing. And then that memory with my dad, because he was the one that taught me how to move up and down a pitch and how to be aggressive in the game, that is probably the first one that I really remember. 

Can you tell us about your football journey?

It’s such a funny story. So after that experience, I was playing soccer heavy. Growing up until like 7th grade. And I remember not really knowing if it was what I really wanted to keep doing. So I took a step back from soccer. And so I played basketball all four years of college. I did swim during like three of those years as well. But it’s so difficult to manage to be a student, being a student-athlete and then also working. Hard to manage it all at once. 

But it’s so funny because during my internship at Power 106 things came full circle with soccer. Because at that point I had gained so much familiarity with soccer, swimming, and basketball. And when I was talking to people at the radio station everyone was passionate about soccer and it was mostly because I want to say like 80% of the radio station, honored jocks, and producers were Mexican American. So it was like something we all connected with. Everyone loved soccer. So that’s where a soccer Sunday started and that’s how I got back into the sport.

Can you tell us about what you do for work?

I’m very well connected in the entertainment music industry. I started in radio, at like a Gospel radio station and then transitioned over to Power 106. It’s the number one Hip Hop station in LA. It was my dream to always be there. So I ground my way into music, from an intern to a producer to the street team. 

Currently, I am the sideline reporter for Lakers nation, a host for Kicks to the Pitch Unboxing and I also host football events when it’s in season. So I do a lot of sports reporting. And recently I’ve also been helping more on the consulting and business development side when it comes to like immersive experiential marketing with companies such as Nike.  

I have a lot of fun. That’s first and foremost. I have a lot of fun and that’s literally number one in all my jobs to make sure that I’m having as much fun as possible. Because if not, it would be impossible to juggle everything that I do.

How would you describe the football culture?

The great thing about sports and soccer, in particular, is that you can connect with so many individuals across the globe. And that’s probably my favorite part about it. It is not just one-sided. There are so many aspects to the soccer culture that some people forget to recognize. There’s fashion and there’s a cool factor to it. There’s a language to it and there’s a community. I love that.

When did your love for sneakers and streetwear begin?

My love for sneakers and streetwear began actually with basketball. Because it was a sport that I played in high school. So when I was like 14, 15 years old. I remember we were fundraising for these ugly shoes, I think it was like a Shack Shock or something like that. And for my birthday someone surprised me with Kobe’s and it was really awesome because I was like, heck yeah. Like at that moment I recognize the value that comes from wearing something that you like as opposed to wearing something that you don’t like. I started just connecting the dots. If I was happy with what I was wearing and I was happy playing. And I started like really growing into what my look and my fashion is.

How would you describe your style?

So I’m a tomboy. Like, again, I grew up with boys. I’m half black, half Mexican. So I feel like I’m always trying to make sure that I’m interjecting both cultures. In what I’m wearing because people see what you wear first before they recognize who you are. And so I, I love the Hip Hop scene, but I’m also big on like nortenas and cumbias and like bright colors. And so I’m making sure that I’m applying that to what I’m wearing.

I remember my first sneaker I purchase was the Jordan 1 Chicago. And it was only because I felt like the red embraces the Mexican culture part of me. It could have also just been me convincing myself that I was doing this for buying this shoe for a bigger purpose. That was my first Jordan 1 that I copped out of pocket. I still have those to this day.

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FEMALE IS FOOTBALL: SABRINA COLS

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Introducing Sabrina Cols. Sabrina is the newest member of the KTTP writing team and our feature for this edition of Female is Football. The Netherlands has long been an epicenter of not only how football is played but how life reacts and exists around it. To help chart the modern rise of the Dutch female footballer, we sit down with Sabrina Cols: marketer, a player, the lioness behind the scenes helping grow the game through her experiences with Nike + the Dutch FA.

Follow Sabrina: @sabrina_cols

Photos: @bybrando

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Sabrina Cols, 35 years old and I come from Holland. I originally grew up in a city in the east of Holland and moved to Utrecht, where I currently live, during my studies. I got connected with the game of football through my cousins, because they were always outside playing. So when I had the chance to join another sport, after swimming lessons and martial arts it was quite logical that I would join a football club. My mom found a great club and I joined when I was 11. I’ve never stopped ever since.

What was the presence of girls and women’s  football growing up. Was it common?

For everyone starting in the 90s, it was there: girls and women’s football, but it wasn’t as big as it is now. In Holland you also have the opportunity to play mixed football, which means that you can join every club. That got a lot of girls started in that time. My club had enough members and could therefore also organize girls teams. 

Were these games televised? Were they hard to find and watch?

When I started to play there was hardly any women’s football on television. So you’re absolutely right. It was not broadcasted and the Dutch Women’s team at that time was not participating at the big tournaments. So I had to watch Eurosport to see a little bit of international women’s football and that started during the Women’s World Cup in 99. Especially the USA women’s team stood out for me. They were playing for big crowds, winning the tournament in the end. Really special to see that on tv and to see all these great players from the different countries at that stage.

How hard was it to watch?

It’s really nice to nowadays see the attentions for the women’s games during the big tournaments. At that time I would kamp in front of the tv and try to catch a glimpse on Eurosport to follow the Women’s games during the big tournaments. Players like Mia Hamm really stood with me, with her great technique and scoring great goals. The following years the USA women’s teams made it easy to follow them, because they were really active and into presenting themselves. To me the team that set the tone and really showcasing how you can do that as a team, as players and of course always combined with great success and winning prizes. 

What part did style in football play into your life?

Growing up you always see your cousins, friends and the kids at school who wear cool things. In Holland we didn’t have the school uniform or anything like that, so we could always express ourselves from a very young age. Wearing whatever you like. If you are a football player, then you also tend to look at what the football players are wearing and how that meshes with your own style. Sneakers growing up was a big thing. I think that’s definitely something that was as important as wearing the best cleats.

Did you have a favorite brand? Or more of a variety?

Back in the days I like the old school ones: the Air Max Lights, [ones] I was always playing football in the lunch breaks,  so so I always needed to have that second pair with me as well. So I would not to not mess up my good pair. I still remember wearing white and baby blue LA Gears, red velvet Kangaroos, the Kill Bill yellow Puma’s during high school. But Nike’s were my favorites. Those are the shoes that I remember.

Now that we know the soccer side of things, Can you talk about what you do for a career?

I started working as an independent [sports and culture consultant] in 2017. Before that, I worked for 10 years for Nike and the Dutch FA. So my background is pretty much in football and the sporting goods business. At Nike, I started with a retail marketing internship and after that I had multiple jobs within the company. My thread within my Nike career was that it was in a way connected to football. At the Dutch FA I was a women’s football marketing manager.

Some of the great memories from my Nike time was meeting the Dutch women’s national team when they got their first women’s fitted kit and supporting the first women’s football photoshoot back in 2008. Introducing also Anouk Hoogendijk (former Dutch international) to Nike. My last gig at Nike was as a kids- and women’s football project manager. 

A dream ofcourse to work as a professional in football. Nowadays I’m working as an independent also really exploring other worlds. So I’m still doing projects in football, but I am also working on arts theater and dance-projects and a social impact-project.

How did your football journey start?

I just grew up loving football. I had a great time playing season after season. With great memories of winning prizes, even playing abroad and just having great laughs with my teammates. At some point, I just realized that I maybe was not that good and interested to make it to the top on pitch. So I had to see if I could pursue another career in football. Sharing what I learned and enjoyed on a professional level. Looking back it’s really cool that I managed to do that. I ended up working for my top two companies. Giving a real pulse to Dutch women’s football and work on kids and women’s football within a big multinational.

I’ve been playing and watching women’s football for so long. And I just couldn’t understand why companies like that shouldn’t pay good attention to it. So I am hoping that I played a part in giving energy and help translate how you can make women’s football work professionally. Whether you are a big sports brand or a federation. Not forgetting also to motivate the players, whether they are internationals or young girls starting, clubs and other people involved on how they can also play a role in promoting the game.

What was it like in the early days of working in women’s football at Nike?

Growing up as a young football fan Nike to me always had the best football stories and the best commercials starring Brazilian team, great players such as Ronaldinho, Henry and Zlatan. So of course I would love Nike to do the same for women’s football. But when I started the first conversations in 2007 at Nike Holland there was still a lot to win on getting to know the sport: how many girls and women are playing, how is it developing, who are the big clubs, who are the players to watch, how many people are watching games. So in other words: is the sport really a sleeping giant and how interesting it is business wise. But it was definitely at that time when I got a real good understanding of what sports business means, what makes great product and even better storytelling. It was not the right time, yet.

What was it like in the early days of working with the Dutch FA?

Yeah. I  was probably the first full-time women’s football marketer, in Holland, in Europe, maybe in the world haha. When you’re in it, you’re just working really hard and doing your best. But if I now look back, I started in 2008 on the parttime project women’s football and I helped develop it into a marketing category with people working full time and many more colleagues involved by 2017, it was quite unique. 

At the Dutch FA at that time, it was really important that they presented girls and women playing, from grassroots to the Dutch national team, in the best way possible. Mind you that at that time the mindset on women’s football was not as good as it is today and the Dutch women’s national team was not as visible and successfull. So we first started with making well though of marketing communication plans, creating it with and for the players, using campaigns around the big tournaments and using quality productions to also shape that image of women’s football. Really inviting girls, women, parents, clubs to join and play football. And setting the stage the women’s national team and getting Dutch fans excited for the other Orange team. 

It’s just really cool to think of how it all came together. A lot of girls and women started to play football, female membership was growing constantly. Giving the Dutch women’s team, the OranjeLeeuwinnen (translated: Orange Lionesses) their own identity and a stage to really present themselves to the Dutch fans. We developed and organized the women’s national team games into the national women’s football events. And the final big step was to win the women’s EURO 2017 bid and making Holland the host of the European Championship. Good times.

What does style mean in terms of empowerment/femininity ?

Well, I think to me style means identity. A really big gesture was, for instance, the orange lioness in the crest of the women’s Dutch national team in 2007. Nike changed the crest from a lion to the lioness. Not just having a new kit, with all these new technologies and an even better fit. It’s those elements that makes you want to wear it even more. The players felt really proud wearing that crest and the story got even more elevated when they won the Euros. Really amazing.

It goes beyond being proud of playing for your country if you know that something is made for you. What you wear fits better when you know it’s made with your insights and embodies your thoughts and dreams. That feeling, that’s what makes your style and what makes your identity. 

What’s different now that you’re working independently? Tell us about your project “Blood in Blood out.”

What I like about working independently today is that I can do a variety on football storytelling. I love the football culture. I love it when arts meets football and vice versa. So I am proud to part of the “Blood in Blood out” project. What they create is a shirt and they evolved it into an even bigger story. The elements in the shirt represents a career, the roots of your family or just the clubs that your a massive fan of. The piece of art that comes out not only looks cool, but is also really makes strong very tangible statement. I love that.

So with Blood in Blood Out, what are you roles?

I do research on players and story opportunities. Once that’s in process I also help with the production side. Whether it’s organizing the meet up with the player or the photoshoot. Another part is to help connecting with magazines or other media platforms to see if we can team up and present the story around the shirts and players. So it’s those three things: research, production and publicity.

How would you describe your work personality?

Sometimes I just describe myself as a creative multiplayer, someone that you always want as part your team and who can play on multiple positions in any stage of the game. Especially working at the Dutch FA, I started women’s football as a project, so I had to prove that it could be bigger than that. So I had to act as a marketing multiplayer: be a product manager, do event promotion, create and produce promotional tools and see if I could join or create teams to help grow the work. Crazy, I did it all. So yes, it was really great that the team became bigger and more colleagues got involved to join the fun. That’s where I learned to be very flexible, present what can be done, help create great teams and teamwork.

Brands you like right now?

I think for me, I am wearing the Veja sneakers at the moment. They are a very conscious sneaker brand. I think that’s really cool. I like Patagonia for the same reason. It’s very nicely designed. It’s great quality. And they present themselves through the world that we should cherish and love. I try to be conscious in what I am buying and to be smart in how to combine that clothes and shoes that I have. Nowadays I like the brands that do the same. 

Closing thoughts on the industry and pushing the women’s game forward?

Yeah definitely. I feel very lucky to have met and worked with many great players, coaches, clubs and people in football. It’s the people and the opportunities through the game that makes it a lot of fun to work on. I think there’s still so much to tell and win. As for the players, the teams and everyone involved just keep going and keep having fun. Nothing is stopping the women’s game to evolve and as it is part of football it is part of a never-ending beautiful story.