Meet Molly Baxter
Molly Baxter has gone through the whole AFC Leyton pathway. Since joining us aged 8, Molly has refereed countless youth games, become a coach for our Saturday morning Leyton Active session and this season made over 15 appearances for the First Team playing in goal and in defence. A complete full cycle!
As part of International Womens day (#IWD2023) and celebrating fantastic females, we caught up with Molly to find out more about her journey, showcase the pathway we have and to seek some advice from an individual who has done it all at the club!
Molly started playing football aged 6. “I got into football by going out to the park with my dad and kicking a ball around with him” “When I was 8 years old I joined my first team which was AFC Leyton”.
Molly is coming up to her 9th season with AFC Leyton. Molly is our longest serving player and someone who has been with us from the very start of our inception, back in July 2015.
During her years at the club Molly has experienced some special moments, “My favourite Leyton memory would be when I was in the U14’s team that went unbeaten for the whole season and won the league”. This was a special team with talented footballers, they were on track to do the treble, but COVID unfortunately put a stop to this happening.
U14 Essex County Girls League 2019/20 winners (undefeated). League cup & County cup finalists. Sadly the Finals were cancelled due to Covid19.
But it hasn’t always been positive memories, we asked Molly if she had ever experienced sexism or misogyny while playing football. “I have experienced sexism while playing football. It happened when I was an u15 and we were playing against a boys team and during the match one of the boys said to his team “they are only girls this will be easy”. We have heard this kind of statement time and time again, people say it’s part of the game.. but it isn’t! As a female only club we have seen positive changes in the female game but it is clear it still happens right through grassroots.
Molly went on to say “I think football has changed since I started playing because when I started playing there were not many girls teams around my area that I could play for and I was lucky that my cousins team had just set a girls team up for me to join but when I look around at teams now there are so many teams for both girls and boys.”
Molly got into coaching because she never got the chance to train or play for a team when she was younger “I enjoy being a role model to the girls when I coach, watching and helping them become better players. Being able to give them the chance is the main reason why I got into coaching. Molly has been running our Leyton Active programme every Saturday for well over 12 months now, successfully running the 3-4 minis session as well as our Juniors.
You may have seen Molly around on Sunday’s, perhaps not in a playing capacity but as a referee. “I have been a qualified referee for about 2 years and I’ve learnt to be strong in my decisions, not allowing anyone to pressure me into changing my decisions”. Molly has refereed at every format, 5-a-side all the way through to 11-a-side and we thank her for support every single week.
We asked Molly what International Women’s Day means to her, “This day is important to me because it means we can recognise and celebrate the achievements that women have done such as the England lionesses winning the European championships. My role model is Fran Kirby because when I watched my first ever women’s game she was the one who scored and seeing all the hardship she has gone through with her injuries and mental health motivates me to keep playing just as she has.”
Lastly we asked Molly for some advice, from someone who has been a player, referee and coach, “One bit of advice would be is to work hard because even when it gets tough the hard work will pay off one day and you’ll look back and see how far you have come in your journey.”
Molly highlights everything we do at AFC Leyton. Molly has gone through the pathway and is now playing regularly within our successful First Team, showing us that there will be highs and lows along the way but hard work, perseverance and being strong in her decisions has got her through the low moments. We wanted to celebrate Molly’s achievements within football and showcase Molly for International Women’s Day.