Full Name: Megan Walsh
Date of Birth: 12/11/94
Place of Birth: Bromsgrove
Height: 5ft 8in
Current Club: Everton Ladies FC & England Under 23
Previous Clubs: Aston Villa Ladies FC
What football club do you support?
What made you switch from Aston Villa to Everton and how much of a difference has it been?
It was an opportunity that I felt like I couldn’t turn down, it was a very difficult decision as Villa were my first and only club. There was a clear difference in the standard of play during my first season in the FA WSL 1, so I had to adjust very quickly with the standard and pace of play being quicker.
Rachel Brown-Finnis was one of the ‘original’ big names in women’s football and a real Everton legend, how does it feel to fill her gloves now she has retired? Do you feel any additional pressure?
It was a real pleasure working with Rachel over the past season and I’ve learnt so much from training and being in the same environment as her. It feels great to have more game time naturally, but there definitely feels an added pressure that comes with more game time; I feel that you’ve just got to thrive off of this pressure which could improve your game.
Where do you see Everton finishing this year and did you have any pre-season aims as a club and individual for where you want to finish?
We are aiming to win the league and get promotion to back where we belong in the Wsl 1. My main aim is to get as many minutes and to play consistently as best as I can.
How old were you when you first started playing football and did you always want to be a goalkeeper?
I have always played football since I was little, having a kick about with my older brother in the garden, I think that’s where I was first put in goal. I started playing for Villa when I was about 9 and at first was defender. somehow I end up in goal and it went from there.
What was the women’s football scene like when you first started playing and did you face any adversity growing up as a girl wanting to play football?
The women’s football scene was still developing at the time but to be honest I didn’t face any problems at all as a girl wanting to play football.
Where and when did you get your big break?
I suppose my big break was in the 2011/12 season when at 16 I became the No 1 keeper for the aston Villa Ladies Senior side. I was playing in a side of much older and more experienced players but they were great and accepted me and trusted in my ability.
Did you face any obstacles along the way, ever think you weren’t going to make it to where you are now and if so how did you get past the obstacles?
The biggest obstacle was when I injured my ankle in November 2012. I was out for 5 months and it was very frustrating, I missed some European qualifying matches with England and a lot of football with Villa.You have to remain positive and really work hard at the rehab and believe that you will get back playing again.
Who was your biggest influence growing up?
Both Mom and Dad, mom first took me to trial for Villa and then they both drive me all over the country. my Dad used to play in goal so he was always advising me. We used to drive up to Rotherham for a coaching session with Leanne Hall, have one and a half hours coaching and drive all the way back. Leanne was great as well obviously she was number 1 for england and is a great coach. My Dad used to take me to another goalkeeping coach, Bernard Mosley for one to one sessions, which also took up quite a bit of time.
How do you prepare for a big game?
Plenty of rest the night before and I try to stay relaxed until the match starts and then stay focussed.
Any tips on warm-ups?
I have a set routine that I do to warm up for a game which consists on various dynamic stretches, handling, kicking, taking crosses and shots.
Are you superstitious or do you have any pre-game rituals?
I don’t have superstitions apart from always finishing a drill on a good clean catch/kick.
What techniques do you employ to keep focused for the full 90 minutes?
Stay involved in the game by communicating with the team and making sure I’m in the correct start position.
What goalkeeper gloves do you wear and how important is the right goalkeeper glove to you?
I have now for many years used Reusch gloves. I have 6 pairs of Reusch Waoroni G2 Ortho-Tec Gloves and they are fantastic. They fit really well but allow you to have a good feel for the ball which helps making clean catches. It is really important to wear gloves that are of a high quality, protect your hands but allow you to ‘feel’ the ball. Reusch does all this and gives you confidence.
What are the main features you look for in a goalkeeper glove?
Finger saves to protect your fingers from over extending…some of these women can really hit the ball hard! I also look for a good fit and soft palms so that you can feel the ball. High quality means that the gloves can take a fair bit of punishment
Since you’ve started playing what is the most important bit of advice you’ve been given and by whom?
Believe in your ability and know nothing is achieved without hard work and sacrifice.
What’s been your biggest career highlight(s) so far?
Winning the premier league cup with Aston villa in 2013, being silver medalist in the European championship finals (2013), making my wsl 1 debut in the same year and being part of the squad that went to the u20 World Cup in Canada in 2014.
Who is/has been your toughest opponent and do you prepare differently to face them? (Team and player)?
I always try to prepare and well and stay focused whoever I am playing. It is important to try to play to the best of your ability whoever you are playing or you can get into the mindset of underestimating an opponent and that is always dangerous. You see upsets all the time in football so it’s important to focus and your performance and not so much the opponents.
Any advice you could give to young goalkeepers trying to break through?
No substitute for hard work , practice and belief in yourself. Try to keep setbacks in perspective, there will always be mistakes but it is what you learn from them that will make you better goalkeeper.
Away from the football pitch and training ground what do you enjoy doing?
I’m currently at the University of Liverpool studying Psychology, so that is very time consuming alongside training with Everton Ladies. One of the main things I enjoy doing relaxing in and around the house and watching various things on Netflix.
The FAWSL seems to keep growing as well as the popularity of the international side, how much do you notice the changes from inside the game?
I think the 2012 Olympics have played a big part in the growing interest that has surrounded the FAWSL and this has further progressed by the increase in media and game coverage on TV. The crowds each week at the various FAWSL matches and at the England women senior’s matches are increasing in number especially with an increase in interest from schools and younger children. The recent campaign ‘This Girl Can’ has also inspired women and girls alike to get involved with any sort of exercise.
How big do you think the FAWSL will get to? Do you ever see it rivaling the Men’s game?
I think the FAWSL will continue to keep growing massively with lots of schools beginning to run girls football teams. I hope that one day in the future the FAWSL will be as big as the men’s game and hopefully with the increase of interest from younger children and schools this will be possible in the years to come.