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The Interview: Sports Minister Tracey Crouch
Onside 39 promotional banner - Tracey Crouch

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch recently unveiled the stunning new artificial playing surface and refurbished changing rooms at Redditch United FC in Worcestershire. ONSIDE editor Rory Carroll caught up with her and got her thoughts on getting into politics, women’s football, and her Department’s new Sports Strategy.

Q&A with Tracey Crouch MP

"We need to make sure we continue to grow the female game across all levels of football, from little girls starting to play all the way to the top."

Tracey Crouch

Tracey Crouch biography - Onside39

RORY: You’ve played and coached football for many years. How did you first get into football?

TRACEY: I played football in the 1980s when it was not really something that girls were involved in. So my earliest experiences were forged on the street with my neighbourhood friends. I didn’t actually play competitive football until I went off to university.  

Whenever I come to Football Foundation facilities, I feel incredibly envious of the kids who are playing on state-of-the-art all weather pitches because I certainly did not have anything like them when I was growing up!

Tracey Crouch Onside39.png

RORY: So when you played growing up with friends, were you doing so with a mixture of boys and girls?

TRACEY: The people I played with were all boys. At primary school, I was banned from playing football in the playground because it was not considered to be a sport for girls.  

When I went to an all-girls secondary school, football was not even on the curriculum. Only at university did I start to play football competitively. A lot has changed since those days, for the better.

RORY: As well as playing, you have coached for many years. Did coaching a girls’ team teach you anything?

TRACEY: When you coach or manage any group of individuals, whether in the work place or in a sporting environment, you should learn a lot from them and hopefully they learn a lot from you too. I took my girls’ team from Under-10 to Under-18 level and then the senior ladies’ team before they went off to university.

I saw them grow up not just as youngsters into young women, but also grow as football players. It is enormously fulfi lling to see that happen.

RORY: Away from football for a moment – what first drew you towards politics?

TRACEY: I do not really know how I ended up in politics, or indeed sport! My parents were not interested in either, So how I ended up as Sports Minister I think is an outcome predicted by nobody.

I liked politics at school and my local MP at the time was keen to get people involved. After that, I got the bug and never really stopped.

RORY:  Previously, you had fi ve years serving on the Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee. How did that prepare you to take on the role of Sports Minister?

TRACEY: When I served on a Select Committee, I got to learn a lot more about the policies in detail and see things from a very different perspective. The role of the Committee is to scrutinise what the Government is doing. You have to be an effective check on the executive.

Now, my role is on the other side. I am hoping that the Committee is looking at what I am doing in a favourable light and trying to ensure that we deliver policy that is right for the nation.

This is an extract from the feature 'Q&A with Tracey Crouch' in Issue 39 of ONSIDE magazine.

Read the full article for free at the following links:

ALSO IN ISSUE 39

There's only one Graham Taylor

England Manager, Watford and Villa legend, and Football Foundation Ambassador who will be greatly missed. Read the heart-warming tribute to one of football's most loved men.

Ambassadors in action

Stars of stadia and screen Dion Dublin, Hayley McQueen, Lawrie McMenemy, Nigel Adkins and Georgie Bingham have been out and about on our behalf.

Taking on the boys

In an historic development, Arsenal Under 10 girls' team entered a boys'league in the 2016-17 season. We give you the inside story.

Grassroots Gareth

FF Ambassador and England's new man at the helm opens a stunning all-weather pitch and changing room pavilion in the West Midlands.

The FA's New Women's Strategy

Learn about The FA's exciting new vision to develop the women's game.

An extract from...'Taking It On The Chin'

Foundation President Lord Pendry's rip-roaring memoirs chronicle his campaigning for grassroots sport,against Apartheid and how an incident with Muhammed Ali left him nursing a serious injury!