Who is Karen Dare?

As part of our DARE’s Diaries’ feature, we interviewed Karen Dare to find out a bit more about her.

Karen (aged 51 years young!) or “action woman” as she is known at COGS, has many strings to her bow.  From playing football (not only with the Crawley Old Girls (COGS) but with two men’s Walking Football teams as well) to increasing her level as a referee, Karen is never far from physical activity.  Running, bouldering and cycling are just a few of the endless activities that Karen is, or has, been involved in.  So, it’s actually quite nice to get Karen sitting down for something!

Last year, out of her love for the Women’s game, Karen decided to share with the COGS, her personal thoughts on England matches and her Lionesses’ match reports have now become legendary after a game, when she posts them on our Group’s Page.   A very enjoyable read, Karen says it how she sees it, and adds her own insight into giving some great reviews of friendly games as well as the big tournaments.  Having enjoyed and agreed with a lot of what was written, Carol Bates thought that Karen’s musings should be available for all to read, especially with the FIFAWWC nearly upon us, as well as the Road to France games and the SheBelieves Cup.  Karen agreed to us producing a new feature on the website which will now be known as “DARE’s Diaries”, with all the match reports being available for everyone to read.  Thanks, Karen!

Before you get into reading them all, we thought we would find out a bit more about the woman who seems to be able to achieve anything she puts her mind to.  You never know, it might inspire someone else to try, too!

CB:   Karen, tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up playing football for the COGS.

KD: ‘Action woman’, ha! I don’t see myself that way. It is normal for me to be active every day, I really don’t like sitting down. While doing this interview my brain is considering whether I should go out on my bike today or go for a swim..…

When my son was 7 he wanted to join the local football team but they didn’t have a coach for his age group so I stepped up, took my FA courses and ended up managing & coaching his team for 6 years. I was invited to a female coaches evening at Sussex FA and met some COGs and it began from there. I plucked up the courage, went on my own and loved it.

CB:  You are a bit of an action woman, as we’ve said, so tell us about the sports you have participated in and how they have shaped you into the person you are today.

KD: When I was a child I liked nothing more than to be outside playing ‘street sports’ – football, cricket, tennis with all the local kids. Those were the days that you could play outside and didn’t get shouted at by neighbours for making too much noise or hitting their cars with a ball. Sport made me happy then and it still does now. At school I played Hockey because girls weren’t allowed to play football and I did this to a good level. I was a GK and completely psycho – diving around, slide tackling, shouting…which is totally different to the quiet, shy person that I was off the pitch. Over the years I took part in many different sports depending on my personal circumstances – badminton & squash fit in well with working full-time then I took to running when the kids were little and at playgroup/school. I started cycling & swimming when the kids were a bit older and I took part in some triathlons. Each year I would set myself a challenge such as a marathon, ironman, long swim and train for it. We’re never too old to learn new skills and to set ourselves challenges and I’ve found that it’s amazing what you can achieve when you put your mind to it. I’ve not always been successful in my challenges – I attempted to compete in an Ironman (swim, cycle, run) two years running but failed both times because of an ankle injury but I didn’t let failure get me down and I finished the swim and cycle parts both years (it’s called an Aquabike) and won both times – sometimes we need to adjust our goals and learn from failure.

CB:  You are also registered as a referee for Sussex County FA, which you seem to be enjoying.  How have you found the progression from managing a youth football team to being on the other side, as an Official?

KD: It’s very hard for me to keep quiet sometimes as a referee – I’m so used to coaching that it’s natural for me to shout on the pitch. I’m having to learn how to behave as a referee but I hope that the players enjoy having me referee their games – I’m not there to spoil their endeavours but to make sure that both sets of players get the best match that they can. I will freely admit that I make mistakes and I am very self-critical but I’m able to reflect on them after the match and make sure I don’t make the same mistakes again. It’s a whole new skill-set that I need to develop and that is my current challenge..

CB:  When did you start writing your match reports and what made you decide to start doing it?

KD: It must have been about a year ago and I think it was just one of the COGs casually mentioning to me that they weren’t able to watch a particular Lionesses match and I said I’d give them a short report on it. I put it on the COGs Facebook page and got some good feedback so I carried on with them.

CB:  We love the honest writing in your reports about the Lionesses and love reading your match reports.  Has any one person influenced you to write or have you just taught yourself?

KD: To be honest I don’t tend to read many sports reports. I do find them all very ‘beige’. When I sit at home watching a match I’m very vocal. I don’t mean I’m shouting and swearing at the TV but if someone does a bad pass I’ll say so, if there’s an amazing bit of play then it deserves a positive comment. If any of you have sat next to me while at a football match then you’ll know that I do a bit of a ‘running commentary’ that, sometimes, is a bit too loud…I was at the WSL Brighton vs Birmingham match the other day and I could see what was going to happen at one particular moment, I said it louder than I had intended, and everyone around me laughed – my prediction was right though!

CB:  We are now seeing an increase (albeit it small) in Women’s Sports’ Journalists and maybe your reports will inspire others to do the same.  Who inspires you and why?

KD: I’m loving the fact that Alex Scott makes appearances on Match of the Day and that other women are getting involved in football journalism. I think Sue Smith is a great commentator – when her & Jonathan Pearce get together it can be hilarious. What I look for in a journalist is someone who’s a bit different, isn’t necessarily balanced/neutral, tells it how it is…journalists shouldn’t be afraid of having an opinion, even if it isn’t popular. We’re all different and that’s what makes the world an interesting place.

CB:  Finally, we could ask you so much more, but we would be here for way too long!  We will, however, just ask one last question:  Can you tell us what your aspirations/ambitions are, for the next few years?

KD: I’m keen to improve on my refereeing and to see how good I can be. I’m knocking on a bit in age so it’s not something I’ll be able to do over a long period of time. I still want to improve at playing football and I’d like to not break any bones in the foreseeable future – this year it’s been a rib, wrist and toe and all while playing football! But none of these injuries stopped me being active, I just keep going whatever happens.

KD: Carol, I’m conscious that this interview makes me seem like some sort of sporting super-woman. For the purposes of balance I’d like you all to know that I’m completely rubbish at: singing, dancing, anything artistic, any sport that requires balance or rhythm eg ice skating, aerobics, I can’t stand heights, I have terrible dress-sense and am in a cold sweat if I can’t wear shorts to an event, I am a drinking lightweight and hate parties….

I’m now off for a swim….

Thanks, Karen!


We are really excited to share Karen’s reports and hope everyone gains the same pleasure from reading them, as we do!