Dads, Daughters, Footballs And Decisions

Toddler L started nursery part-time this week. It’s the first time in her life that she’s spent time with people that aren’t her family. Considering that she usually spends all of her time with me, it’s been a pretty big adjustment for us both. The thing though, is that kids grow up and time goes by. Fetuses become newborns. Newborns become babies. Babies become toddlers. Toddlers become children. You get the gist.

This recent change to our lives has seen me briefly think about the distant future. I don’t do it too often – particularly when it comes to parenting – because there’s just too many unknowns. I obviously like to think that I’ll continue to be a pretty decent dad. Someone who will always support her. Someone who will encourage. Someone who will be there no matter what. But, it’s difficult to know for sure until the situation arises.

I think the biggest thing the nursery situation has made me realise is that every decision we make – no matter how big or small – will have an impact on her life. Sending her to nursery for 1.5 days per week makes total sense, yet we can’t be 100% sure it’s the right one. All we can do is what we think is best, until she’s in a position to make her own decisions.

I think this is why I’ve enjoyed sharing the Dads and Daughters campaign from Women’s FA Cup Sponsors SSE. As a dad to a daughter, a football fan and someone who believes gender shouldn’t be a barrier to anything, it’s been nice to hear stories celebrating the great work that other dads have done to support and encourage their daughters. This has been part of SSE’s commitment to improving girls only football provisions across the UK.

Regular readers may remember me sharing two previous stories from the Dads and Daughters campaign. The first focused on Kelly Smith MBE – England’s all-time top goalscorer and six-time women’s FA Cup winner – and her dad, Bernard. The second was about 12-year old Daisy McGregor, her father, Kenny, and how football has had a huge impact on her life since being diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. Two different dads and daughters, but two fantastically inspiring stories.

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The final film in the SSE series tells the story of 17-year old Flo Allen and her dad, Rob. Recognised as one of England’s top footballing prospects, Flo traded farm-life for city-life to pursue her dream of making it as a pro. This meant relocating to the other side of the country and leaving her family behind at just 16 years of age.

Despite the difficult decision, 2016 has been a big year for Flo as she’s been promoted to the Bristol City Women’s senior team and been picked in England’s squad for the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. In fact, at the time of writing, Flo and her teammates are preparing in Jordan for a Quarter-Final encounter against Japan.

Although her determination, passion and commitment has played a huge part, Flo believes her close relationship with her dad is one of the key reasons why she’s got to where she has. From playing football together when she was a kid, through to supporting her decision to move to Bristol, it’s clear that Rob’s encouragement has helped get his daughter on the road to fulfilling her footballing dreams. You can check out the short Dads and Daughters video below:

Obviously Toddler L isn’t quite at the age of leaving home like Flo did. But, as alluded to at the start, the recent nursery experience has meant that we’ve had to make decisions about her future. These are things which she can’t contribute to just yet, but decisions which we know will continue to shape her into the person she’ll become.

I’m sure Rob had his concerns when his daughter said that she was moving to Bristol just after her 16th birthday. The point though is that he got behind her decision like any good parent should. Yes, things may not always work out as planned, but you don’t know if you don’t try. For Flo, it’s looking like the decision was the best thing she could have done. The way she’s progressed through the ranks already, I’m sure it won’t be long before she’s achieved her dream of playing for the England senior team.

To find out more about the work SSE are doing in women’s football visit here.

N.B. This is a collaborative post written with SSE, one of the UK’s leading energy companies, supplying energy to around 8.21 million customers throughout Great Britain and Ireland.