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At last, there's something to smile about. . .; Here's the lift We lsh soccer fans needed.


WELSH football star Jayne Ludlow has revealed she's so obsessed with soccer she's got no time for boyfriends.

While fans of Welsh football are crying into their pints about the men's team's worst run for 31 years, Jayne is a Welsh star that's sure to put a smile back on their face.

Arsenal star Jayne, from Treherbert, is currently the toast of women's football in the UK after winning the AXA Players' Player of the Year Trophy at the end of last season.

The midfielder's got the hottest feet in the Premier division - but she's revealed being the best comes at a price.

"There's no chance of me getting a boyfriend!" laughs Jayne, 22. "I don't think I'd fit one in. I think there'd be too much of a conflict of interests.

"I couldn't ever go out with a guy who wasn't into football. I think I'd kill him! It would be a real role reversal though, wouldn't it? I'd be wanting to watch the football and he'd be wanting to watch Coronation Street or something!

"These days, if men find out I'm a footballer, there's a real mixed reaction - if we happen to be talking about football anyway and they mention Arsenal, saying, 'Oh, they're a good team, ' and I say, 'Actually I play for Arsenal' - they're usually like 'Whoah!'

"Men tend to make stupid assumptions about the women's game without even seeing it.

That's a bit of a male thing - they always think they know best, don't they?"

Jayne's fitting her footie in around studying for a physiotherapy degree at King's College London - and she's got high hopes that the women's game could go pro in a few years' time.

"I normally train about five or six days a week, depending on what games are coming up. Also I go running and go to the gym and things, but when I'm back home I tend to go training with one of the local men's teams.

That's good fun.

"I'm passing my exams but sometimes I look and think that I should be doing more work. But I've done alright so far. It's quite difficult sometimes to fit everything in.

"They're on about a professional league starting up in 2003. I don't know if it will happen but at least they're aiming for it."

But Jayne's amazed that in the new millennium, with football a national obsession, the women's game still faces an uphill struggle against sexism.

"The problem is women's football and rugby have still got a stigma attached. We've got to change people's perceptions of sport.

"I go and train in the local park sometimes and some guys are fascinated - they come and look and are really into it. But you get other guys who just make stupid remarks.

"It doesn't help when you've got the old pundits saying stuff about 'women can't play football'. A lot of people end up joining the bandwagon and agreeing with them when they haven't even seen a ladies' game in their life.

"In general, people are looking at women's football a bit more seriously these days.

"But it does amaze me. In this country football is like the movies in America - and it's still all focused on men even though loads of women are football supporters.

"A lot of young girls grow up kicking a ball about, and then they get to a certain age and it's not a done thing any more."

But if aspiring footballing chicks reckon life with the Gunners will be anything like the men's lavish lifestyle, they can think again.

"Life on Arsenal Ladies isn't quite as glamorous as the men's!

We pass the guys on the training ground once in a while, and that's it. The men's team is a totally different world. The guys are on thousands of pounds a week.

"Arsenal are the best club to be in at the moment, because if anything's going to happen with women's football it's going to happen there.

"When I was a youngster I never thought I'd be playing with Arsenal with the possibility of becoming professional in the next two to three years.

"All the girls get together when we can, but it's difficult because a lot of the girls live some distance away. It's usual, if you've got a game on the Saturday, to go out Saturday night, and at Christmas time and the end of the season. We all get on really well."

Let's change our attitude JAYNE reckons the problem with the Welsh men's side goes a lot deeper than a temporary lack of form.

She says Brits in general have the wrong attitude when it comes to sport - they're just not competitive enough.

"Maybe the Welsh team is going out and not actually wanting to win everything. I think that's a general thing with sport in our country. People go out there and they've got this idea that it's not the winning, it's the competing that counts. I can't stand that attitude.

"If you're going to compete you might as well win. Other countries don't have that - the Aussies go out to win. They've got a different mentality and we should be thinking like that too."


SUCCESS: Jayne at Arsenal DISTRAUGHT: Giggs during the Armenia match SINGLE MINDED STAR: Professional football gives Jayne little time for romance AUSSIE: Winners
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 9, 2001
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