Prior to the season beginning, we’ve been getting to know Dan O’Hearne’s Leeds United Women’s team a little bit more and learning about their career on and off the pitch.?
Georgia Wattam is enjoying her time between the posts for Leeds United Women, as she looks to embark on a successful 2021/22 campaign with the club.?
The 22-year-old – who is nicknamed ‘Bob’ – talks us through her nickname, the journey into football, her footballing idols growing up and overcoming disappointment.?
Let’s clear up the nickname straight away Georgia – or Bob we’re told! So, which one do we need to be calling you
“Either is fine! It’s a bit of a long story, but one I don’t much of really! From being a kid, my mum and dad used to call me it, I don’t really know why. It’s just carried me all the way through playing football since about the age of four, I just don’t know why it has stuck but it has. Everyone knows me as it now, so Bob it is and I am ok with it!”
It’s an understatement to say it has been a tough 12 months. What have you been up to without games to play in
“I work at a care home and Covid hit us really hard, as I think everyone can image. Both residents and staff have been really affected by it. We obviously have to wear masks for a solid 12 hour shift which was a bit abnormal to us, but now it’s the norm in most places isn’t it. It was very stressful, very demanding, especially when it first happened as everyone was isolated to their bedroom. Being able to help people at such a tough time was certainly rewarding, but we were all so tired throughout – sometimes doing 60 hour weeks.?
“I am lucky to have a really close family, we’re all there for each other. I lost my mum when I was young to breast cancer which was tough, but I am really close with my father and brother, who is pretty much my best friend. My uncle needs care so I have been popping in to see and help him when I can as well, we’re all helping and supporting each other through what has been a hard time.”
So back to the pitch, how did your footballing journey begin and what was your route through to joining the club
“The journey began when I was five or six. My older brother and his best friend were absolutely football mad, he’s three years older than me but we used to play out together and go to the park and kick a ball about. They just used to stick me in goal and kick the ball at me, I wasn’t too happy about that and also having find plastic bottles to use as goals, very old school!?
“I went to sign for my first girls team when I was nine I think, and I was an outfield player then. The manager needed a goalkeeper and my dad told him I could play there. I just thought ‘oh dad you’ve signed me up for something rotten here!’ From then I have just been hooked, I have loved playing in goal and I wouldn’t change it at all.?
“I went on to play for Doncaster Belles until Under 16s. I saw online that Manchester City were offering trials, so I rang my dad and told him I had the chance to go up there and trial. He was scheduled to be in work, but within 24 hours he had booked it off so he could take me. I was the only one from a football club, everyone else was from a ‘Regional Talent Club (RTC)’, so we knew it would be tough to get in. I was carrying an ACL injury and waiting for surgery, but I was successful and made it into the club so I was buzzing!?
”But when it came to getting my surgery, unfortunately I was released because of it and it was a heart breaking moment, so I was on the edge of quitting football. Luckily, my dad explained to me it would just be a small set back and I would need to be better from it, just a bump in the road. I was only 17, I had just passed my driving test, so I managed to get into Guiseley and do my rehab. From there I joined Leeds and I have played ever since!”
How is your connection with Leeds, we know a lot of the team support the club as well as playing for them?
“I am from Scunthorpe originally. My dad is a big Liverpool fan, the house is covered with signed pictures of them all but 100% when Leeds play Liverpool I am a Leeds supporter for sure, I play for them so they’re my club now! I feel like home here, it’s a great place with great people. I watched all the games during lockdown. The things I got up to were literally work, Strava runs and watching games! It’s a great club with amazing people, a real privilege to be a part of.”
Whilst watching games on tele and playing with your brother on the park, who did you want to be, who were your footballing heroes
“My favourite player has always been Steven Gerrard, but from my position I have always looked up to Manuel Neuer and Joe Hart! Neuer is amazing, I don’t want him to do well this week against England but he is brilliant. I try to focus on his footwork, he’s a bit crazy on the pitch isn’t he, some of the things he tries are brilliant to watch.
“I have been enjoying watching England at Euro 2020 but I got Hungary in the sweepstake, so I was really rooting for them and it was gutting watching them go out! Now I can just have my full support behind England though. I think we are training on Tuesday so I will be travelling, I’ll have to have the game on the radio whilst driving there.”?
Women’s football is massively on the rise. We’ve seen huge coverage and there are so many pathways and competitions to play in now. Just how much are you enjoying that
“There is still a dream in me, I would love to turn professional but I have my ‘Plan B’ with my career goals if I don’t make that. I think everyone needs to keep that dream in them don’t they!
“People go on all the time to me about women’s football and speak negatively about it, but it’s actually great. The World Cup the other year was amazing, the coverage was everywhere and so many enjoyed it. People do still underestimate the game, but they haven’t watched it, so anyone who does watch it I truly believe they will get hooked!?
“We would love to see fans back this season for our matches. When we played at Elland Road a while ago we got about a thousand fans down to watch us, it was a massive privilege. Walking out the tunnel to ‘Marching on Together’ was an honour and to play at the home of Leeds United, we just loved it, so to have support this season would be amazing.”