Cherwell speaks to the outgoing President of Oxford University Women’s Association Football Club Charlotte Rougier. Rougier is a third-year Maths student, who played for OUWAFC’s second team for two seasons before becoming President and progressing onto the Blues team in her final year at Oxford.
CB: How long have you been playing football?
CR: I’ve been playing casually with my family and at school since I was 8 years old. I got the opportunity to go to the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and play in a mixed tournament there. This made me want to play football properly and I joined a club in London. However, playing football at university level has been an entirely new experience: it’s amazing to benefit from great facilities, coaches and to play alongside some of my best friends!
CB: How much success has the club had this season?
CR: The Blues had a tough season this year: we suffered many serious injuries at the beginning of the season and were in the best Midlands BUCS league playing against some excellent teams. However, we won Brookes Varsity in November which was one of the highlights of the year. We unfortunately lost against Cambridge in the Varsity game in tough, windy conditions, but the improvement towards the end of the season means that we will go into the next season with confidence. The Furies, the 2nd team, won their Varsity which concluded a successful season for them: they secured their spot in the same league for next year despite having a squad with many players who only started playing university football this year.
CB: Do you think you, as a female sportsperson, have ever been treated differently than a male in the same position would have been?
CR: I feel that, sometimes, some people do not take women’s athletes as seriously as they take men’s athletes. At the end of the day, we all have the same passion, we all invest a lot of our time into training, and we all fight as hard to win on the pitch. The amount of progress that has been made in Oxford football thanks to the work of the past presidents is fantastic: all our events are double-headers now where men’s and women’s teams play on the same day at the same location, and the attendance this year was always good for both men’s and women’s matches. At professional level, the improvement is obvious too, with some of the big clubs recently investing a lot of money into women’s football, and with records of attendance at women’s football matches being regularly broken. There is still room for improvement but I’m very optimistic about the future and I can’t wait to see what women’s football will be like both in Oxford and around the world in 10 years’ time!
CB: What is the best part about doing sport at Oxford?
CR: I think that we have amazing conditions in which to play sport in Oxford: there are many sports grounds in the city centre that we can reach in less than five minutes on a bike, we get access to some great equipment, and we train with fantastic coaches. Most importantly, it’s one of the best ways to meet people that share the same passion as you do through almost daily training sessions and weekly minibus journeys and socials! There’s also something for everyone with a wide variety of sport and a good range of levels.
CB: Do you find it hard to balance doing sport and work?
CR: Although I’ve had to do my problem sheets several times on the minibus or after coming back from socials, I’ve become very organised and I’ve never missed a training or a match because of my work. I can’t even think for one second what Oxford would be like without sport: I hate the thought of being stuck in the library all day long, so playing sport has been a perfect break from my studies. It clears my mind and it means that I am more efficient when I work.
CB: What has been your favourite moment of this season?
CR: Brookes Varsity was our first win of the season and the event sold out which made it extra special – these whole club events make you realise that it’s not just about playing football but also about sharing the same passion with amazing teammates. I would also like to mention the Cuppers’ Final where I played for Hertble: I think that women’s college football is one of the biggest sport successes in Oxford as so many girls are involved and are keen to play and progress. It was incredible to see many fans coming to Iffley and cheering for their college in the women’s final.
CB: Does being President have its perks?
CR: It was fantastic to be co-President of the whole football club this year: it makes you think thoroughly about how to develop women’s football and get more people interested and involved in it. The role does have it perks: I got to see Barcelona play twice in the Champions League and travelled there in March for a Women in Football Trip organised by Santander. I also got to meet Ada Hegerberg, the first ever women’s Ballon D’Or winner.
CB: Which sporting event are you most looking forward to this year?
CR: I’m super excited about the women’s world cup happening in France this summer. England has a very solid team and the interest in women’s football is bigger than ever so it should be a fantastic event!