United Women host first fans' conference

Saturday 13 April 2024 14:29

Emma Watson and Gabby George took part in Manchester United Women's first fans' conference on Friday, as the countdown to our FA Cup semi-final clash with Chelsea continued.

Members of the Manchester United Women Supporters' Club gathered at Carrington for their chance to speak with the two players, learn more about their recovery and get their thoughts on the side's growing fanbase.

Before the event got under way, manager, Marc Skinner popped in to say hello to the attendees and thank them for their continued support.
Fans' conference with Emma and Gabby Video

Fans' conference with Emma and Gabby

Our fans put their questions to Emma Watson and Gabby George in a special event at Carrington...

Here are some of the questions and answers from a memorable afternoon for fans and players alike...

Isobel: As a supporter, it's great to feel the change in the atmosphere as the amount of people attending matches has grown. What difference has this made to you as a player on the pitch? And how does the crowd at United compare to other clubs you've played at?

Emma: "I think the crowds that we have at Leigh are great and the fans that we have, who come to support us every week, spur us on."

Gabby: "I think the amount of fans that we have here at Manchester United compared to other clubs is massive. I came from Everton and I appreciate my time there, but I think the fans at Manchester United will always be the best fans because I'm one of them!"
Donna-Marie: During your recovery, you've been watching games from a higher vantage point so you can see the whole pitch. I would like to know if this has helped you to see patterns in play better?

Gabby: "Yeah, I'd say it has. I mean obviously this is my second ACL. So I've done it all before. I think you've got to take advantage of those things and being able to see the pitch from a different perspective. Obviously being on the pitch, you see one picture, but when you're in the stands, you can see everything from a better view."

Emma: "Being on the sidelines and watching the games, I think it's still a massive learning point, especially for me as a young player just starting my career. Being able to watch the girls play and see different patterns and still continue my learning off the pitch, which will then help me when I'm back playing. So I think it's been important as well."
Members of the United Women Supporters' Club who took part in the event with Gabby and Emma.
Carol: Do you think it would benefit the women's game if former players took up refereeing? And is that something that either of you would consider at the end of your career?

Emma: "I'm not sure I would want to go into refereeing. I think it could be a benefit if former players want to go down that route because you see so many, when they come out of the game, they go into coaching and management. But going down the refereeing route could be an option potentially."

Gabby: "I think it would be beneficial if they did. But I also think we just have to continue focusing on giving them more training to improve what we have, because I think not all football managers have played football before. So it doesn't mean they can't be good at the job. I think it's just having more access and more facilities to improve them. And I wouldn't go into refereeing."

Amelia: How would you encourage younger girls to get into sport?

Gabby: "I think in terms of sport, it's an environment where you can go and be yourself and let energy out. I think young girls get into it because their parents put them into it, thinking, 'oh, we need them to run around instead of running around the house.' But I think, if something is for you, the most important thing is make sure you enjoy it. It doesn't matter if you're not the best at it. I think the enjoyment is what gets you through and what pushes you to want to improve."

Emma: "I second that. I think it is massive to make sure that you enjoy and love what you do. It would be brilliant for more young girls to get into sports, especially football, and hopefully us as role models - they can see us and and where we're at and maybe be inspired by that and want to get involved."

Ben: What advice would you give me to implement everyday to improve my football?

Emma: "I think to just give it 100% every day and give it your all."

Gabby: "I agree with Emma and I think like what I said before, it's about enjoyment. So if you enjoy it, you'll give 100% no matter what because that's what you want to do. So I think it's just about giving 100% and enjoying yourself."

Rebecca: Emma, you said in the UTD Podcast about joining and getting injured before your debut was going from the highest high to the lowest low. How do you cope with that mentally and will it make the debut, when it comes, all the better now?

Emma: "It was the highest high to the lowest low. But I think it's just about having a bit of trust in the process and that knowing that injuries are part of sport. Unfortunately these things happen. So I think it's just trying to stay positive every single day. And, coming into training, giving it my all, knowing that what I'm doing every day, the wee small things are going to add up to the big result at the end. So yeah, trying to stay upbeat, trying to stay positive and just working hard every single day. Then, hopefully, I'll get to that end result."
Fans of all ages enjoyed asking questions and listening to Gabby and Emma's answers.
Charlotte: Gabby, how is your recovery going and when do you think you will be match fit?

Gabby: "I think in terms of physically, it's going really well. I think it's been a mental challenge for me. Like I said before, this is my second ACL, so it's been a lot tougher than what I wanted. I went from being super high, signing for the club that I wanted to sign for, playing Champions League football, competing to not being able to play football again. So it's been tough, but I think it's going well physically. My aim personally is to be back sometime in pre-season. So hopefully if I stay on track, that'll be when I'll be back."

Harper: What do you think is your biggest achievement?

Emma: "I think mine would probably be scoring my first international goal for Scotland on my second senior cap. That was a really, really special night. And then obviously signing for a big club like Manchester United."

Gabby: "Mine is signing for Manchester United and getting my caps for England."
The two players signed autographs for the attendees.

Oliver: You were both new players in the summer. How have the girls made you feel part of the squad?

Gabby: "I knew a lot of the girls coming into it from England and from United Youth when I was there. So I think the team is such a good team to be a part of, and I know a lot of people say that, but I think our changing room is really united and you can go around and speak to anyone. There's a lot of laughs and I think the girls have been amazing with us all."

Emma: "I think joining in the summer, from day one, I think everyone's been so welcoming. Everyone's so friendly. We have a laugh, you can talk to anyone, and everyone's so approachable. I think it's just been quite an easy transition to get into the team and just feel comfortable in the environment. I love the girls. I love this club."

Caroline: I am a mum of two budding footballers. We've had lots of setbacks, we've had lots of broken bones, we've had heavy defeats, and self doubt. What advice can you give me as a parent to help them through that?

Emma: "I think just support [them]. I think just being there as their number one fan and their number one support system. Because I know for me, my mum's my number one fan and she's my go to and having her through the ups and downs, it's just helped massively to get through it. So I think just being there for them and just being a shoulder to cry on."

Gabby: "I think obviously some parents have a different way of approaching things, and you have some that are pushy and some that are supportive, and I think the supportive ones will always win. I think obviously we all want to push everyone to be the best in whatever they do. But I think it's just letting them know that the road isn't always going to be straight. And when we're kids, we think it's going to be straight. And that's never going to be me, I'm sat here with two ACLs later, and I never thought that would be me, but I think it's just making sure that you can come back from them things and do what you enjoy."