Pauline “The Rock” Maddocks – Mother’s Day – March 2020.

In our Be Inspired – Be Inspiring series, we look at how our COGS have not only been inspired to join us but are now inspiring others to do the same.   “Mild-mannered” Pauline is 61 and recently became a Grandma, she is the epitome of COGS by not only inspiring others but she’s always there to help, support and just be truly awesome, as well as being brilliant at defending!  She doesn’t like people getting past her and they often don’t (hence her nickname) and she also seems to appear in the media quite often, through no fault of her own!  We are very proud of our “Rock” and hope Pauline’s story will inspire anyone who’d never thought about kicking a ball before, to give it a go!   You may have seen Pauline’s friendly face on some of the BBC’s FIFA Women’s World Cup coverage intros. or any montages that relate to it!  Happy Mother’s Day, enjoy reading Pauline’s story….     Carol.

Mild-mannered Pauline cheering on the Lionesses in France at the FIFAWWC19.

“Growing up I was very shy.  I never went to Nursery School so my first encounter with lots of other children was when I went to infants school.  Back in my day the only sport girls played was hockey, netball, tennis etc.  My two brothers were both into football, both playing and watching, but were a lot older than me, 12 years and 9 years, so I was not nearer enough in age to play football with them.  I do remember that when my Mum and Dad would visit my Grandma when she was ill, I would go with my younger brother and his girlfriend to watch him play and manage Handcross football team but that is as close as my association went.  I have two boys, the eldest was into computers and technology so no football there.  My youngest was the sporty one.  Always out and about playing sport outside with his friends.  He joined a football team when he was 9 and my husband and I would take him to matches and watch him play.  Sixteen years watching him play in defence in all weathers and the match at Wisborough Green around Christmas time stands out as the worst.  It rained so much the ball would land on the pitch and not move, I had to empty water out of my boots, take my soaking wet trousers and socks off and wear my fleece as a skirt to drive home!

I heard about COGS from a friend who asked if anyone wanted to come along and have a kick about.  I thought it sounded like fun and would give it a go so in May 2015 I went along to my first session with her.  Oh boy!  I was hooked from that first session.  I was 56 and playing football and absolutely loving it.  I have gone from not being very active to playing football at every opportunity I can.

I play in defence.  I think I mainly picked that position because that is where my Son plays and therefore I have watched and learnt from him.  It was Marcus, one of our coaches, who said one session that I was “the rock in defence”.  Hence that is where I get my nickname of “The Rock” from.  I am determined to stop any ball getting past me.  I have had bruises from hard shots that I have stopped.  People are so apologetic when that happens but I just get on with my job in defence and clear that ball.  No need to apologise to me ladies!  I have gained so much experience and knowledge from the more experienced ladies who have played football before who give guidance and encouragement.  I have been told that “I can read the situation in defence really well”.  I do occasionally find myself just standing and watching the game go on as I marvel at the skill being played on the pitch then realise I am on the pitch too and get on with my job in defence.

I have been so blessed with all the opportunities that have arisen through playing with COGS.  Helping spread the word that older women can play football and that it is a great way to get fit by appearing on Inside Out South East, training at St George’s Park for The FA People’s Cup and becoming a poster girl (even having my picture at the top of my son’s email when he was asked if he wanted to join his football team for the season), taking part in filming to advertise The FA People’s Cup.  There are more and more tournaments now being set up around the Country as more women of every age are starting up groups and playing.  Meeting so many famous people like Jordan Nobbs, Adele Roberts, Jane Garvey from BBC R4 Woman’s Hour and Jo Goode on Radio London, playing in the Old Girls World Cup in France in 2019 and going to watch the Lionesses play with my football family.

For anyone wanting to get fit, have fun, laugh a lot and have a great experience I would advocate football.  I started off as a really unfit novice at 56.  I am now a very confident, outgoing and fit 61 year old, still learning the game and who does not want this amazing experience to end.  No-one judges you for your size, fitness or ability.  The fitness and ability comes with practice.  I am still the same size, obese according to my scales, but that does not matter.  It is a game that you can take at your own pace and build lasting friendships.  I even had the confidence to go along to a session in Spain and join in with 22 men and 1 woman and play for an hour.

This is the first form of fitness that I have done that I can’t wait to go to each week.  I am loving football and life.  What more could I ask for?