Pien Meulensteen discusses equality | Manchester United

What do you see or hope for the future of women’s football then?
“A real big positive at the moment is the coverage that women’s football is getting. It is hopefully attracting more fans to go to the stadiums, to get invested in women’s sport and women’s football. You can see the crowds that go to Leigh Sports Village to support Manchester United Women. They’re only getting bigger. You just have to hope that it goes in the same trajectory. The players deserve people to watch them and the standard of football is so good now. One of the big things now is that players are becoming huge idols for younger kids. There are a lot of kids now asking to go to women’s games. It’s important that parents take them not only to the men’s games but also to women’s games, and that the younger generation grow up with having both men and women playing football.”

It’s vital that women don’t feel uncomfortable coming to football matches – have you ever been in that position?
“I’ve never felt uncomfortable at a football game. I’ve been quite lucky because even when my dad was working at United, we were sat in the family stand, you get to know everyone and it was a nice atmosphere. It’s the same when I’m working at football, you work in the press rooms and you start getting to know people. I’ve had good experiences at football matches. There are definitely times where you know, I’ll finish a game and it’s a night-time game and you’re thinking ‘oh how am I going to get back to the train, I’ve got to walk’ and you are a little bit more on edge I suppose. But I’ve been lucky so far, touch wood. I haven’t had any sort of obstacles so far that have come my way. But I do feel like if anything would happen, I feel I would know the people that I could speak to, and I would hope that things would be done quite swiftly. I don’t know if that’s the same experience for everyone else. I there is a big thing about if you see it, say it, and report it.”

Finally, what does Manchester United mean to you?
“Not to be too cliched, but for me Manchester United was always a little bit like a family in the sense where it feels like I’m coming home. Because I’ve grown up with it since we moved to Manchester when I was four, I’ve only ever known Manchester United really as the place of work where my dad started. He was here from the youth team, so we grew up with a lot of the players. You had Marcus Rashford in the youth team when he was a youth-team coach. You were there throughout every step and then you start getting to know everyone behind the scenes at the club. You start to get to know the receptionists, the chefs, the physios, the medical team. And now that I’ve also started, I was working at Manchester United as well. It’s been such a big part of my life. I couldn’t imagine not being in Manchester. So many people will say to me,  ‘why don’t you move away to London?’ and I said: ‘Well, Manchester is just my home’ and a big part of that is Manchester United.”

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