Following on from the huge success of the 2019 World Cup, the women’s game has hit a buffer in its development, mainly because of Covid. But the future is still bright, and stars like Manchester City’s Scotland International, Caroline Weir are eager to see it get back on track, starting with the Olympics this summer.

Having narrowly lost out on the WSL title last season with Man City, Caroline Weir is hungrier than ever for success in the coming campaign. That hunger, drive and determination is matched by her will to see the women’s game elevated to and equal stage with the men’s game, with the athletes that perform week in-week out given the recognition that they rightfully deserve. It’s a mindset that’s shared by Weir’s brand, PUMA, who have recently translated that approach, with it manifesting itself as the next generation Ultra 1.3 – the brand’s first boot to be released in both a unisex and women-specific fit. It’s a huge step, and one that Weir is happy to champion, particularly in the coming Olympic Games and WSL season.

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What would you like the future of football to look like?

For me, I’d like it to be an equal playing field. We’ve seen a lot of discrimination across all parts of the game – both the men and women’s sides. It’s something that has been going on for a long time but it’s now at the forefront of people’s minds. All the abuse needs to be eradicated. From a women’s point of view, we need to keep up the momentum we have when it comes to growing the game, making it more sustainable and accessible for all. We want to show little boys and girls out there that there are opportunities and that women playing football is a normal thing.

We need to lose that tag “female football” and just reset it to just “football” don’t we?

Yeah. I would love that. When people say “there’s a game on the TV” it would be great to get to a point where they’re saying that about a women’s game and it not be assumed it’s a men’s game. We want people to watch the sport who are genuine fans of the game. There needs to be less comparison between the men’s game and the women’s game. I think women’s football has a lot of things to celebrate that are wholly unique to our sport. Right now, we can’t keep comparing both sides because they are different games. Both physically and commercially. Women’s football has been playing catch up because it wasn’t all that long ago that it was completely banned. I think people forget that sometimes. That’s the reality of it.

Sky Deal, the growth of the WSL – What have been the most noticeable changes as a player in the last few years for you?

With Covid, women’s sport was left behind a little bit. The Sky deal for Women’s football is huge. It’s the beginning of a new wave of momentum. It’s a whole cycle – more coverage means more girls want to play football and with that come more opportunities. It works in a cycle like that and it’s huge for the game – it’s exactly what was needed to elevate it to the next level. As a player, I can be more excited to know that the game is going to be seen by more people. That additional investment so as a player I’m super excited about it. 

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What have you learnt most about yourself over the last few years? A pandemic, stop start seasons; has it changed your outlook at all?

I think so. I’ve probably grown up a lot more. I think my perspective has changed in that I realise there’s a lot more to life than just football. As an athlete, that will always be my number one focus but having that time off last year during the pandemic gave me time to think about other things that are important and other things I like to do off the pitch. I’ve signed up with Girls United and Common Goal – they focus on things I’m passionate about. Gender equality being one. It was a good time for that. I’m grateful and fortunate for the WSL season to be completed and that we could go back to training. The pandemic has been so hard for everyone and I’m sure we’ve all learnt a lot. For me it was about being more patient – not looking too far ahead and being grateful for where I am in the here and now.

PUMA has designed the Ultra specifically around the female anatomy, that shows a strong intent doesn’t it?

I think PUMA are a forward thinking brand when it comes to women and football. They like to think outside the box. Fundamentally, men and women are different - that’s not a negative, it’s just a physical reality. We have a women's kit so we should have women’s boots too. It’s things like that that can help change perceptions. These things will keep pushing the game forward and are things to celebrate. As a female player, I’m excited to wear them. I love the colours and how they look. PUMA boots have been great for me over the last few years and I’m excited to keep wearing them.

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What’s it like when a player turns up to training and there’s a new pair of boots waiting? Do others gather round…?

I was obsessed with football boots when I was younger. All my money would go on boots. I would wait for the delivery. When I got them, I would go straight back out to the garden and play. When I get a delivery now, I still have that moment where I can’t believe I’m having these boots sent to me. It’s a big day at training when someone has a pile of boxes turn up on whoever’s seat that may be. Everyone wants to see what has arrived. There’s nothing like a first training session or a first game in a new pair of boots – that’s always a good day.

Your on pitch look, how much does looking good and ultimately feeling comfortable help how you feel going into a game?

I probably believe in that quite a lot. Training will always come first in terms of making you the player that you are but I’m one of those players who likes a strong image. From my lashes to my nails - my make-up routine is different on a match day to normal days. For me, that just makes me feel good and I think that helps me feel confident. It’s something I’ve probably developed over the last few years. Going back six or seven years I wouldn’t have been bothered but as I’ve got older, it’s become a bigger part of my personality and part of my routine.

We have to talk about two goals in particular, both against United. What are moments like that like for you – you play like a real entertainer – is that your personality coming out on the pitch?

I think people that know me, know that I’m never going to be the loudest in the changing room, so when I do things like that, it’s stuff I’m practicing every day in training. The keepers hate me for things like lobbing them. I’m always trying to dink them. When it comes off you can look great but when it doesn’t you can look silly. Goals like that are obviously special. It’s good for the game as it’s positive coverage. For them to go out on social media, it shows what we’re producing. It helps grow the game. From a personal point of view as a city player - I love scoring but I love scoring more against United. I never thought we’d still be talking about it. They get brought up all the time. It’s cool and there’s history attached to it as well.

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What would you most like to achieve in 2021/22?

The olympics. Being a part of that is an honour. Building on last season, I’d love to get to an FA Cup final. That’s probably the first silverware that will be up for grabs on a club level. For me it’s about building on last season's success. I’d say it was one of my successful seasons when it comes to stats and consistency. I had an impact on a lot of games and I want to build on that and do my best to help the team. With Scotland, we start a World Cup qualifying campaign so I’m looking forward to that too.

The PUMA Ultra 1.3 women’s edition is available on pre-sale now at prodirectsoccer.com