What's it like to achieve your dream at just 18?

Wednesday 31 January 2024 11:14

Manchester United defender Evie Rabjohn is part of a unique generation of women’s footballers, who are signing professional contracts at the club as they reach adulthood.

There was a time when this wasn’t always possible, but the sheer growth of the women's game has made dreams like Evie’s become a reality. 

The 18-year-old only has to look as far as team-mate Rachel Williams to gain an appreciation for how far things have come. 

For our experienced striker, and many others, starting out as a youngster meant football was a commitment alongside a full-time job - with the game now at a point of being able to reap the rewards of the trail blazed by those who came before. 
Rabjohn: It can only go up from here Video

Rabjohn: It can only go up from here

Evie Rabjohn discusses where women's football has come from, and where it can still go, in this exclusive interview...

“It’s unbelievable,” Evie began, in our exclusive interview. 

“For me to have kind of achieved my dream by the time that I’m 18, and this to be my job, is something that, yeah, you’d think about growing up but wouldn’t know if it would be possible. 

“Now that I’ve done it, it’s exciting - and it’s exciting to be in a position where other people can look at me think, okay, she’s there at the age of 18, why can’t I?”
Across the world, there is a generation of budding footballers growing up watching themselves represented on screen. But even for Evie, who has been able to turn professional at 18, the schedule of games on television were dominated by men’s football. 

“Everything on the TV was men’s football, it wasn’t women’s football,” she said.

“Luckily, I’ve grown up in a family where I’ve got my older sister who also plays football, so she would progress into a first team and I’d be able to watch games that way.”
Evie made her debut for United in our Conti Cup win over Everton.
That has rapidly changed over the years, with games now accessible to watch at home across a multitude of platforms, including many on our very own MUTV. 

“The amount of recognition that we get now as female footballers, and how much it is on television now, I get people from school messaging me saying they’ve seen United were playing,” she adds. 

“It’s nice for them to understand where I was and now where I’m at, but especially for the young generation, they can watch it from home and they’re able to see where they want to be at.”
Two contrasting journeys: Evie alongside Rachel Williams.
In some ways, women’s football is just getting started. On the back of Lionesses' European success in 2022, the game in England alone has seen significant growth with the promise of things continuing on an upward trajectory. 

“It’s only going to get better,” Evie insists. 

“There’s going to be so much competition and it’s just going to make the game so much more exciting for everyone involved and everyone watching. 

“I think that it can only go up from here.”