Rinsola Babijide is a player of enigmatic talent. A player of supreme ability, her move from Liverpool to Brighton is a statement of intent and determination - she is a player on the hunt for constant challenge and progression. Having fallen for football since day one, we speak to her about the here and now, the highs and lows and why the future is so bright, all blue and white.

A confident voice and someone not afraid to stand out and step out as a leader. That's Rinsola. In the short time we had with her on this shoot, her passion is evident. This is a player wanting to constantly better herself while searching to unlock the equality that football needs. Happy with the progression however not sitting still in waiting for change - this is a game shaper who has faced all sides of the game. Positive and a powerful and full of praise for Puma's move in releasing the women-specific Ultra 1.3, this is a player to watch, support and be excited by as the 2021/22 draws close.


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

I’d like to see more support for the women’s game. I’d like to cut out racism and the discriminatory slurs both in the men and women’s game. Financially, we could speak so much about what needs to change there but things are progressing. The more financial backing we can get, the better, anything to keep shifting it towards an environment for elite athletes would be good for us.

With your personal journey in mind, you mentioned the financial side - were you ever faced with the decision whether to pursue football or go down another career path?

It hasn’t been something I’ve let come into my mind. I fell in love with football when I was a little girl. No matter what, I don’t play football for the money. I play football because I love it. It would be nice to have the financial backing and a decent wage, of course. I don’t think we need to look at getting it to the levels of what we see in the men’s game. It’s incomparable - just a wage that can make sure players are stable so that they can focus on football without the worry of financial pressures.


What have been the most noticeable changes as a player in the last few years for you?

We’re getting more exposure which is great. The viewing figures are going up and there’s a lot more people watching out games. That has been big. We as a sport are still growing and things are moving in the right direction. There’s more female coaches in the game now too which is healthy.

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

As I developed and went higher up the leagues through football, I’d say I’ve become wiser. I’ve experienced so much on and off the field. I’ve experienced sexist slurs on social media as well as racism and things like that...you become stronger from those kinds of things. They’ve made me tougher and stronger as a person. On the pitch, I’ve experienced a range of things with different teams, both positive and negative. It’s a beautiful game but there’s an ugly side to some parts of it behind the scenes with politics and things like that. Getting an understanding for that has been important. It’s a sad reality but as a black female I’ve felt like I have to work harder than the next person. I need to stay focused and tough - negativity will always be there but If I’m working hard, getting to the places I want to play, it means that I’m controlling all I can.

All those experiences, it means you can help that next generation coming through too in due course. Do you like the idea of being a role model?

Definitely. I don’t play football solely for myself. I do it for the younger generation too. I do it for young black females that aspire to be professional footballers in the future. Me experiencing everything I have means I can be a role model for that next generation that are coming through. They may experience things like I have or go through similar situations so to be here and able to help people through that is something I would proudly do. Just to let them know that they’re not alone and despite the negativity, they can still achieve everything that they have dreamed of no matter what.

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Puma have designed the ultra specifically around the female anatomy, that shows a strong intent doesn’t it?

I’m very proud to be a puma athlete. It shows the direction that women’s football is going in and how much it has grown. You only have to look back a few years and something like this would never happen with any brand. It’s a massive step in the right direction. Puma have shown huge support of me and the women’s game as a whole.

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

Oh yeah definitely. Puma always drop such a bright colourway when they launch a new boot so it always grabs attention. Everyone gravitates around whoever has the new boots. I think Puma have come up so much in the last few years. They’re a big force in football and I’m proud to be a part of that also.

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

Definitely. When I’m on the pitch though, the only thing I’m really thinking about is trying to put the ball in the back of the net and put in a good performance too. It’s more off pitch when I’m thinking about my appearance and stuff like that. I enjoy doing interviews and photoshoots and things like that off the pitch.

Looking forward at the club game. What makes the right environment for you to be successful?

For me it’s about being somewhere that brings everyone together. I like to be around people who want to be successful and positive, and not just enjoy the tag of being a ‘professional footballer’. The men's teams need to back the women’s sides better as well. Everyone under one roof, using the top facilities as one club is an important aspect for any club. I feel like there’s a number of teams out there with the name of a big team behind them but they’re treated so separately. Better facilities, greater backing and all those things are a big help.


Which clubs do it right? Who should the whole industry look at as best in class?

Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal are such forces in the WSL. They have so much history there and have invested in all aspects of those sides. Not just in the players but the whole environment around them. That’s what club’s should aspire to be in my opinion. They are the top three every single time. If you have the backing of the men’s side and the club as a whole, it means that us on the pitch can fully focus on that. You want to cancel out the background noise and be able to focus on the football alone.

Been involved in the England squad too, how much did that give you a taste of something you want more of?

With England seniors, I’ve always wanted that call up. Ever since I was young that’s all I’ve wanted. I’ve not made my debut yet but hopefully that will come. It’s an overwhelming feeling. I’ve been in the environment at a camp and it’s such a step up. It makes you want more but also makes you want to grow and develop yourself more so that you can keep stepping up and getting better. Being with England, there’s that feeling of what I mentioned before - everyone there just wants to win - it’s such a strong mentality. Everyone pushes each other and the standards are so high. It’s such a positive environment to be in.

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

Playing regular football. That’s what I want more than anything. I want to enjoy playing football and get as high up the league as we possibly can. I’d like to make my debut for the England senior side. 

Pick up the PUMA Ultra 1.3 at prodirectsoccer.com