Christmas · Football · Gift Ideas · Liverpool

Still Nil Nil – A Football Lover’s Perfect Gift

As you’ll know if you’re a long-time reader of Mum’s the Word, we’re fans of Liverpool Football Club. Husband has been a fan his whole life, and when we met I adopted LFC as my team, too. That means that there are many historical games from LFC’s football past that we revisit from time to time, and we’ve been to Anfield as a family for a special day of Liverpool FC hospitality (we also saw Luis Suarez score his first ever Home hat-trick while we were there, which made it extra special).

Perhaps one of the most relevant games to current Liverpool fans is the night of the 2005 Champions League Final, where Liverpool came back from 3-0 against AC Milan to win on penalties and become European Champions. It was an amazing night, and although it happened before I became a Liverpool fan, it was a night that Husband has rewatched with me MANY times, and one in his life that he’ll never forget. A Football Lover's Perfect GiftThat’s why, when I received an email about Still Nil Nil, I knew it would make an incredible gift for Husband. You see, Still Nil Nil have taken these special nights in sporting history and created beautifully illustrated books, containing original poetry, describing the events in detail. There are currently three titles available, costing £12 each; The Treble, based on Manchester United’s historic 1998/99 season, Invincible, revisiting Arsenal’s unbeaten 2003/04 season; and The Miracle of Istanbul, retelling Liverpool’s epic Champions League final comeback in 2004/05.

The Miracle of Istanbul

Josh Clarke, founder and director of Still Nil Nil, said: “It’s incredibly exciting to finally unveil a true passion project, Still Nil Nil. Millions of parents and children bond over their football club – and our books represent the perfect way for parents to pass on their passion, and memories, to their children with an incredible shared experience.

“With Christmas fast approaching, the response to our initial three books has already been overwhelmingly positive. We are delighted to be delivering gifts that football-mad children (and, probably more so, parents) are going to love.”

I can’t wait to give Husband his copy and I think it will be something he’ll cherish. The books are aimed at kids, but I truly think they’re perfect for football fans of any age, and for Liverpool fans young and old, the night in Istanbul will be something they want to remember forever.

There’s still plenty of time to order your copy of a Still Nil Nil book from the website, so head over there and grab one now.

Family · Fitness · Football · Kids · Sport

Soccer for Children: A Guide to Getting Started at Different Ages

One of the very best things about soccer for kids is that they really can start at any age. It’s a very inclusive sport and is suitable for anyone regardless of height, strength or speed. Soccer is a relatively easy sport to learn when you’re just starting out, and it involves a lot of continuous action and running, which means it’s a great way for kids to exercise. Communication and cooperation are key skills on the field, which makes it a really nice way for kids to learn about teamwork (for more resources on teamwork and becoming a great footballer, take a look at Soccer Gap)

In fact, soccer is officially the most played sport in Australia, so they’ll always have friends to play with. According to a survey conducted by the Australian Sports Commission, 1,104,815 Australians participated in soccer in 2016. That’s over 400,000 more participants than AFL, and four times that of Rugby League.

There’s no ‘right’ age to start soccer, but here you’ll find some of the basics in terms of what you can expect in each age bracket, from 5 years old to 12 years old. Take a look…

5 – 7 Year-Olds

It’s really all about getting out and having fun at this age. Teams will be smaller, with usually only four players on the field, and each half of a game will only go for around 15 minutes. They also probably won’t have a goalkeeper. While they’ll start to learn the rules, they probably won’t be very strictly enforced – it’s more about getting familiar with the basics and giving them a chance to develop a love of playing.

Starting at this age can set up a great foundation for building skills and understanding the fun that can come from exercise. It also gives them an opportunity to develop strong friendships across their years of playing.

8 – 9 year-olds

By this age, there’ll be more players on the field, and there’ll be a goalkeeper too. The length of each half will probably be more like 20-25 minutes. Of course, it’s still mainly about having fun, but with more of an emphasis on preparing them for higher levels of the sport. Additional rules will be introduced, and some of that earlier leniency with enforcing them will start to reduce, giving them a chance to fully understand the details of the game. Some experts believe that 8 years old is the ideal age for kids to start playing soccer in a competitive team environment.

10-12 Year-Olds

This is when coaches will really start to focus on skills in order to provide them with a solid foundation of technical competence. At this age, children are ready for a more structured approach to training too. The number of players allowed on the field increases to 9 a side (at 10 years old) and then to 11 a side (at 12 years old). The length of the game also increases, with 12-year-olds playing full 30 minute halves.

While things are more focussed at this stage, the emphasis will still be on having fun and building positive experiences.

All children are different and it’s hard to say whether there is an ideal age to start soccer. But, whatever their age, there are many benefits of choosing soccer. It is a contact sport, but it’s not a collision sport, which means its relatively safe compared to a lot of other team sports (especially other forms of football).

Beyond that, it’s well known that there are a lot of benefits for kids who play sport – it contributes positively to their physical health, can give them a great range of social experiences and can give them a great sense of achievement as they build their skills. If your child is interested in sports, soccer may well be a great place to start. You could also get involved and help out the team once you’ve got some basic disclosure from CRB Direct.

A sports camp can be a great entry point and there are many soccer school holiday programs in Sydney or your local surrounding area that your kids can get involved with.


A Family of Football Lovers

A lot of wives hate the football season; at least once a week, they lose their Husbands to the TV or even stadium if they’re lucky enough to live near their chosen team and if their team isn’t doing so well, their moods can seriously suffer! However, here in the Mum’s the Word house, we’re a family of football lovers, so match days are a family affair, though sadly our team is Liverpool FC which means that the commute from Essex is a little far to make a regular pilgrimage to Anfield.

Back in 2013, we were lucky enough to be invited along by Liverpool FC’s PR team to visit Anfield for a stadium tour, museum visit and family fun day, all before watching a home game against West Bromwich Albion. It was an incredible day; we got to see Luis Suarez score his first home hat-trick and we eventually won the match 4-1. I was 5 months pregnant with Burrito Baby at the time, so whenever we talk about that day, we always say that all four of us have been to Anfield! It was an amazing experience and something I’m SO glad we got to share with Sausage – she still talks about that day over a year later and would love to go back again now that BB is here. IMG_1557

Liverpool FC is a really family oriented club, so supporting our team as a family is really important to us. On days when the matches are on TV, all of us congregate in the lounge to watch together and on special game days, we often have Husbands’ Dad and his wife over as they’re Liverpool supporters too. We love nothing more than sharing a pizza together and watching the match…there may even be a beer or two involved on good days, too!

In return for telling you about our football watching habits, Betfair has sent us a gorgeous Pamper Parcel, a new company started by a fellow blogger, Rosie Shelley, and in the spirit of equality, Husband and I have been sharing the contents – of course, the chocolate was yummed down pretty quickly between us and the girls, and I’ve slathered myself in the rich, firming moisturiser included in the box, but as Husband is the bath-lover amongst us, the bath bomb is being saved until the next time he has time for a soak! HER2

Are you a family who watches sport together? Does your family all support the same team, or are there any major rivalries going on? Are you a family of pamperers who love nothing more than soaking in the bath? Do you make good use of match days by waiting until the footy is on to give yourself a pampering? Leave me a message below, I’d love to hear all about your sporting (or NON-sporting) habits as a family!


Domestic Violence and The World Cup

world cup domestic violenceI read a really disturbing report in The Guardian the other day which said that police forces are expecting the World Cup to have a negative impact on the levels of domestic violence across the UK. According to figures, “violent incidents increased by 38% when England lost – but also rose by 26% when they won”. What’s even more worrying, is that that figure has incresed with every tournament since 2002, with rates of domestic violence during tournaments at an all-time high. The combination of increased alcohol consumption, disappointment of losing or excitement at winning is being blamed for the spike in figures. 

The interesting (and I mean that in the gravest sense, obviously) thing is that the violence is not just ‘men hitting women’, but female on male as well as within gays couples. Husband was recently teaching Sausage about self-defence and he told her that boys should never hit girls, a sentiment with which I agree but I think there’s more to add to that statement:

1. Yes, boys should never hit girls, but girls shouldn’t be hitting boys, either.

2. If you hit a boy, don’t just expect that he won’t hit you back because you’re a girl.

3. If you hit anyone, you’re opening yourself up for retaliation.

As a mother to girls, it’s really easy to feel indignant about male-on-female violence, but I think it’s important that we also remember that violence works both ways. Yes, sexual dimorphism in humans means that men are generally bigger than women and have greater strength, but be honest – if you have sons, wouldn’t you be just as indignant about one of them being abused by a wife or girlfriend?

The other day, Husband and I were in the supermarket and we were mucking around, having a joke and a bit of banter with each other, when I jokingly said to him “I’m going to thump you when we get home!”. It was clearly said in jest and no-one batted an eyelid, but what if it had been said the other way around? If you heard a man, even jokingliy, say to his female spouse “I’m going to hit you later”, would you be able to take it with a pinch of salt, or would you secretly be wondering if he was a wife-beater? We’re hypocrites when it comes to domestic abuse, as the video below illustrates brilliantly:

What’s even more scary is that the experts now think that children who see domestic violence happening are perpetuating the behaviour as adults and continuing the negative cycle. A quote from an article in The Guardian said:

Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh said: “These trends are well established and the worrying thing is there is an increase from tournament to tournament. We have to ask – are perpetrators becoming increasingly confident? Are we seeing intergenerational abusers?

“One of the things that we are looking at is around learned behaviour and this is causing us concern. Are there now people who have seen their parent behave in this way during tournaments who now think it is acceptable for them to do the same?

Its got to the point now where concern over the rise in domestic violence during the World Cup (over 25% in Lancashire in 2010) is so significant that local authorities are running poster campaigns on bus stops and billboards, urging people not to be violent to their partners during this tournament.

I’ll just stop and let you absorb that for a moment.

We’re putting posters up to REMIND people not to abuse their significant other.

I’m sorry, but that scares the shit out of me. Has society really degraded to that point? Do we need to get the ladies in Waitrose to remind us; “Here’s your change, receipt and little green token, sir. Enjoy the match tonight and DO remember not to beat the living daylights out of your wife!”

I’m not making light of domestic violence or being glib about such a horrible situation but there’s no denying that the figures speak for themselves. What makes this even worse is that the increase is still only representative of the incidents which are actually reported…it’s estimated that 70% of domestic violence actually goes unreported, which means that the figures are nauseatingly higher than we really think they are. People are reluctant to report things because they think they won’t be taken seriously, or put themselves or their families in further danger. I have a good friend who used to be a constable in the Metropolitan Police and they’ve confided in us on more that one occasion that it’s unbearably disheartening to charge someone for a horrible, violent offence only for judges to hand out piffling, insultingly short sentences – is it any wonder people are too scared to report things when they know their abuser will be a free person within a matter of days?

I don’t know what the solution is here – I truly wish I did. All I know is, any kind of violence is wrong and we need to be doing more to teach our children this.

If you’re suffering any form of domestic abuse, be you male or female, straight, gay or anything else, you MUST get help. Refuge are an amazing charity which helps victims of domestic abuse and there are also lots of other charities working in specific areas who can help with emergency housing needs and much else besides. 

Feminism · Football · Kids

Role Models for Girls

The 2012 Olympics was a fantastic event which really hailed some positive changes in the UK. As a mother to (almost) two girls, I’m pleased with the coverage that female athletes received and that names like Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton and Katherine Grainger are now known to many. Of course, there are plenty of highly successful female athletes out there but with football, rugby, cricket, and golf dominating the TV coverage, it’s easy to think that sports are for men only.

Two of my Husband’s cousins are female and in their tweens. Both are excellent at football, though they couldn’t be more different in other ways. The eldest is into girlie stuff and loves nothing more than clothes, make-up and having her hair and nails done. The youngest…well, I think the last time I saw her in a skirt was when she was a bridesmaid for my sister-in-law in 2007, but either way, they’re promising little sportswomen. There seems to be a preconception though, that ‘girlie girls’ can’t be sporty and that anyone who’s sporty has to be a total tomboy, which is rubbish – did any of you see Jessica Ennis is that dress?!

Jessica Ennis Red Dress

For one of Husband’s cousins, we decided that we’d start the indoctrination early and get her a Liverpool FC shirt for Christmas. We didn’t have time to do it in the end, but we had planned to get ‘Bonner’ printed on the back – Gemma Bonner is currently the captain of Liverpool Ladies team, and we’re also proud to say, part of the Senior England Women’s Team. Aged just 21, she captained Liverpool to the 2013 FA WSL title, which is an incredible achievement for a woman of her age.

I’m so much happier for my daughters and female relatives to be looking up to sportswomen and people with genuine talent than the type of so-called “role-models” we see churned out of the X-Factor machine every year, or on the pages of fashion magazines with their hideous messages about body image.

All I’m saying is, next time you write a girl off as a ‘Tom Boy’ or think that girls should be ‘girlie’, try and bear in mind the example that our sportswomen are setting, think about the fact that it’s more than possible to be both accomplished and radiant, like our Jessica, and think about letting our girls be exactly who they want to be. When I was little, I was constantly told that I couldn’t do certain things – I wanted to do drama at University and was told what a waste it would be because I was ‘too intelligent’ to waste my brain on a creative subject (let’s not mention that the vast majority of British actors started at Oxford or Cambridge…). As an adult, I wish I’d done exactly what I wanted because I’m now without any higher qualifications at all and have no real idea of what I should be doing. I’m happy, but I wish I’d been allowed to follow my own ideas.

It’s not just our girls who are benefiting from seeing strong women in the media, either. When boys see women as strong, successful and capable, it adjusts their perceptions too and will hopefully mean a progression towards women being taken more seriously on all platforms.

What do you think? Who do your kids look up to? What does ‘strong woman’ mean to them and you?