Now Playing

Now Playing IconNow Playing:

Evolve Radio

Artist Name

Album Art

Ex-Lioness White out to stop girls abandoning sport due to online hate

“Suddenly, the longing floods back in and I cannot help but dare to dream once again. Someday… Who knows? I decide to make the call…”

At a critical juncture – when she is 16, watching the Lionesses at Euro 2005 and mulling over leaving Arsenal for Chelsea – Ellen White’s autobiography abruptly ends.

There is no mention of winning the WSL twice when she returned to play for the Gunners, being part of the historic England squad that won the Euros at Wembley in 2022 or being awarded an MBE.

White’s story did not end there, of course. She would go on to become an incredibly potent striker in the WSL and make history as the Lionesses’ record goalscorer.

But the book is designed to highlight the findings of a recent YouGov poll, commissioned by mobile network EE.

Image: White was part of the Lionesses squad that won the Euros at Wembley in 2022

The poll found 121 girls aged 13 to 19 in the UK give up on their sporting story every day, due in part to the impact of online hate that 44 per cent of girls are subjected to.

With the recent boom in the popularity of women’s football, following the aforementioned Euro triumph, it is an astonishing, damning statistic.

In conjunction with EE, White penned her story. The title, aptly, is ‘Unfinished’.

“The statistics captivated me,” she says in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports.

“I wanted to be able to project those numbers into the spotlight, but then also help people feel supported. It’s not that those are the statistics and that’s it.

“It’s an incredible campaign to be part of and I hope everyone feels empowered by it.

“It could have been me, which is another reason why I wanted to do this. Social media didn’t really exist when I was growing up and I feel like, if that was me now, having to experience that, I might not have carried on my sporting journey. It might have been too much for me.”

White did have her own sliding doors moment as a teenager, which is detailed shortly before the end of the book.

She applied for a scholarship for potential England players at Loughborough University with the FA Football Development Programme but, after an interview, was told by a panel their belief was that it was not in her future to be part of the England senior team.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

On an episode of Three Players and a Podcast back in November, Ellen White revealed the defining moments across her career.

“It was very upsetting to be told that at 16 I was never going to play for England, which was a dream for me,” she recalls.

“On the flip side, it ignited a fire inside me to want to prove them wrong.

“That’s when I changed clubs and schools. I wanted to carry on my education, but I wanted to carry on my sporting journey at the same time.

“It was difficult, but here I am with 113 caps and as the Lionesses’ top goalscorer. I feel very proud of that.”

White also feels grateful to have grown up in the early years of social media, free of the intense scrutiny and abuse of today. “We used to get home and go on MSN, when you knew who you were talking to!” she laughs.

“I’ve been subjected to a lot of social media abuse, probably towards the latter stages of my career when it really started to be a massive thing.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

England Women’s record goalscorer Ellen White says FIFA, UEFA and domestic leagues need to look at the women’s international calendar ahead of another busy summer for the Lionesses.

“It is hard and it can really stick with you. Your family can read it. I don’t know how I did it on my phone, but I can’t see a lot of it now and that’s good for me.

“Around major tournaments, I completely removed myself from social media, so I could really focus on my performances, playing for the Lionesses and being the best version of me.”

The natural aim is to ensure that number can be greatly reduced.

“No one should have to give up on their sporting journey, their sporting dream because of social media,” White continues.

“If we are able to reduce that in some way, I will feel very empowered. Hopefully this campaign will help people not give up on that dream.

“It’s finding out what works for you on social media and also how to navigate it because it’s such a crazy world.

“Sport is for everyone and I think that’s a really powerful message that you shouldn’t feel like you have to give up because of someone sitting behind a keyboard saying horrendous things.”

Hate Won’t Win

Sky Sports is committed to making skysports.com and our channels on social media platforms a place for comment and debate that is free of abuse, hate and profanity.

For more information, please visit: www.skysports.com/againstonlinehate

If you see a reply to Sky Sports posts and/or content with an expression of hate on the basis of race, sex, colour, gender, nationality, ethnicity, disability, religion, sexuality, age or class, please copy the URL to the hateful post and screengrab it and email us here.

Get Sky Sports on WhatsApp!

Sky Sports WhatsApp channel

You can now start receiving messages and alerts for the latest breaking sports news, analysis, in-depth features and videos from our dedicated WhatsApp channel!

Find out more here.

Sky News
(c) Sky Sports 2024:Source