It has been a while since the last TEB Interview but it was worth the wait as we had a chat with Palace Ladies player Ciara Sherwood.
Q. Perhaps we could start by you telling us why you chose football and how you got into the game?
My brother is a few years older than me so he used to always play football with me in the garden, and then I used to be dragged to watch him every weekend with my Dad. I then made a group of friends down at my local park where I would play football every evening after school and all weekend. Eventually, when I realised I was okay, I asked my Dad to find me a team to play for.
Q. What has been the toughest challenge for you as a female footballer?
I would say not being taken seriously until being seen actually playing football.
Q. How has the season been for the Palace Ladies so far?
It has been really good although I do think we should be higher than we currently are. We let a few games slip which we should have won. I was out for a while with torn ligaments in both ankles, it was mentally tough for me, but I am back playing so everything is fine.
Q. Do you think women’s football came of age at the last World Cup?
Definitely, it was very positive for women’s football. The fans attendance in the Women’s Super League (WSL) jumped massively, and a lot more people are more aware about women’s football now and the standard it’s now at.
Q. Will women’s football ever get close to having the same or similar opportunities to the men’s game?
I think eventually it will. At the moment i its amazing to see what is going on at certain teams in England like Chelsea and Manchester City. The facilities that they use, the standard, the amount of fans and the money. It is gradually getting somewhere but it depends on teams wanting to invest in their women’s team.
Q. There is no doubt that you could have had a pick of clubs so why did you decide to join Palace and how did it come about?
Fran Ali and Pam McRoberts were already at the club and spoke highly of both the staff and girls. There was a few old managers and people I spoke to who advised the club was going in the right direction and was well managed. I came down for pre-season and after two sessions I was impressed with the standard and really enjoyed it. After speaking to Dean Davenport about his plans for the season and seeing him coach and manage, I didn’t even go to the other teams which I had lined up. I was happy with Palace and it was the right choice.
Q. What makes Palace different to other clubs?
Firstly, the girls are all great and it is a great environment. My best friends play for the team and I’ve grown up playing with a handful of them. There is respect from the men’s side which you don’t see at many clubs, they involve the ladies team in as many events as they can. The fans are probably the main part that makes Palace different. When I first joined the team, I wasn’t expecting it but there are a bunch of fans that come to every home and away game, they sing the whole way through. It’s great!
Q. How did you feel when you were first called up for international duty and how different is it to playing club football?
It was a great feeling, I was so proud and honoured. It’s a faster pace, a lot more demanding and very competitive. I get to train and play along WSL1 and WSL2 players so it helps me learn and develop a lot.
Q. What are your strengths as a player both on and off the pitch?
On the pitch I would say my vision, long balls, communication, work rate, general midfield play really like switching play. Off the pitch I like to make sure everyone is involved and happy. I’m a positive loud person.
Q. What do you do for a living and does this clash with your commitment to football?
I have two businesses which I manage. HW School Skills which is working in primary schools delivering fun, educational PE lessons by top coaches. Advance Player Development (APD) is a company that provides football coaching for elite players from the age of 4 to 15 . We also work at North Kent College where we have two boys under 19 scholar teams, and the girls will be starting in September. My work hours are pretty flexible so it doesn’t clash whatsoever. I fit everything in which I need to. I’ll do some work first thing then most mornings I go to the gym, come back and do a bit more work then off to training.
Q. What are your footballing ambitions?
I would love to reach fifty caps for Northern Ireland Im on 12 now so on the right track and Id like to get Crystal palace promoted to the WSL. Id love to train full time.
Q. Do you have any superstitions that you stick to before, during or after a game?
Not really superstitions but I have a routine and eat and drink the same every game.
Q. Who is your favourite footballer past or present?
I have a few but Roy Keane and Ronaldo.
Q. Which football team do you support and why?
Q. Finally, please take the opportunity to promote any projects you are involved in.
If everyone could follow APD on Twitter. There is a half-term football camp at Bickley Primary School in Bromley (Nightingale Lane, BR1 2SQ). It starts at 10:30am and ends at 3:00pm. It costs £10 a day from 3rd April to the 13th April and covers boys and girls from the age of 4 to 16. It would be great to get as many Crystal Palace kids there as possible!