Girls COE player Tyra Ntege talks about being a young female footballer and the importance of International Women's Day.

Tyra plays for Gillingham's Centre of Excellence Under-17s and is a Year 12 student at Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School. Tyra also does voluntary work for Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, as the Co-Chair of its new Group for Young People.

Tyra recently spoke to Kick It Out to discuss her thoughts on Gillingham, International Women’s Day 2016 and her position within the Group for Young People…

Like most football fanatics, Tyra Ntege has been playing the game for as long as she can remember. After being scouted by a grassroots coach as a youngster, Tyra signed for Charlton Ladies and has been playing in academies ever since, moving to Gillingham at the beginning of this season.

She speaks very positively about role the football has played in her life: “Generally, the experience of playing football, especially as a young woman, has been one of growth and finding my confidence. Football has played a significant part in shaping my identity and who I am. It’s given me self-discipline, confidence and teamwork skills.”

With International Women’s Day being celebrated on Tuesday 8 March, Tyra revealed why it’s a significant day in the calendar for her.

“International Women’s Day holds a great importance to me,” she stated. “I think it’s important to celebrate the achievements of women in a variety of areas and to celebrate what we’re capable of, and the things we continue to do.

“I want to see a society where men and women are put on the same platform and appreciated in the same way for the various talents they possess that may be different, but are just as impressive as one another. 

“For that reason, International Women’s Day is very significant because it’s a time in which we can talk about and focus on what women have achieved politically, socially and within sport.”

Whilst there is a long way to go to achieve equality in the game, Tyra believes progress is being made and she highlights the success of the England women’s team at last summer’s World Cup in Canada as evidence of that.

“I was so proud of them,” she declared. “I couldn’t stop smiling at the TV while I was watching the game. It made me so happy to even see women’s football being televised – it was a big deal.”

Looking forward, Tyra outlined why she joined Kick It Out’s Group for Young People and what she hopes to achieve for women through her work.

“The reason I wanted to get involved was primarily because of my own experiences and the experiences of others that have shown me that inequality is so apparent in football.”

“One of my friends was very, very talented but she had a bad experience where she was bullied and it made her give football up,” she continued. “She tried to persevere, she tried to keep going but when it gets to that intense level where it can make someone give up something they love – I was appalled. 

“So I just thought, Kick It Out is a way in which I can stand up not only for myself, but also for people who are going through bad experiences in football.”