Creative Soccer Culture

Nike Launch Chelsea 18/19 Away Kit

Nike have launched the 2018/19 Chelsea away shirt with their Women's Team deservedly fronting the threads. Fresh from a WSL and FA Cup double winning season, the girls are flying high.

It's a return to yellow for Chelsea's travels next season – a colour that they first wore in 1963 and made famous in the '70s, Chelsea’s classic yellow change strip is back for the first time since the 2014/15 season. As the jersey made a debut appearance we sat down with the girls in the spotlight to talk progression, the kit, and what lies ahead. Take it away Fran Kirby, Hannah Blundell, Maren Mjelde, Karen Carney and Ji So-Yun.

The 17/18 season was such a high for you guys as a team, when one season ends in such a way, does it just make you hungry for the next?

Blundell: Yeah I think naturally when you win a trophy you just want that feeling all over again the next year, but for us individually as a club we always want to better what we did before. Winning the double last year was a great thing for the club, but we’re looking at bettering that with the treble or possibly even a quadruple of titles. Every season we always want to progress so that’s where are minds are solidly focused on going into this season.

You’ve got pre-season tours and plenty of adventure ahead for the new WSL season, what are those experiences like? Does it show just how much the female game and support for it is growing?

Carney: My pre-season trips used to be just trips up to Manchester as opposed to places like Barcelona and Montpellier. It’s a very different way of doing things now and it’s all changed a lot. Even when it comes to kit launches and those elements, even being involved shows how much it has all moved forward. The women’s game is now being taken more seriously, it’s not just about getting more attention but it’s being given more respect. Even from a marketing point of view, all those things help and it’s great to be a player right now.

Kirby: It’s massive how far the women’s game has come. It’s amazing to experience all the pre-season tours and looking forward to probably the biggest year for women’s football in this country. Every year the league is improving, so as players we all want to continue that improvement and also improve the growth of the popularity of women’s football in England.

What have you noticed most about the way the game has changed off the pitch in the last few seasons?

Kirby: It’s become so much more professional, even from when I first joined Chelsea. Looking back 5 years there were still things which were on a semi-pro basis, and I feel that’s why the league has improved with more teams becoming full-time and being able to recruit and be appealing to players all over the world. 

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Kirby was Chelsea's top scorer as the ladies lifted the title.

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Being involved in kit launches, is that something you grew up seeing? And is it now a bit of a dream to be part of something like that?

Blundell: Yeah definitely. When we were growing up, the women’s team never used to promote the kit or be involved in that side of things but now it’s happening. It’s progressive and will only help when it comes to elevating the female game.

The away kit usually gives brands and the club a chance to be a little more experimental with colours etc. Do you like the shirts that are a little more wild and what do you make of the 18/19 away kit?

Mjelde: I think when most of the girls heard it was going to be yellow were a bit like “wow” and we all think it’s cool.

Nike have worked on bridging the gap with sport and lifestyle. Is that something you’ve noticed as players?

Kirby: Yeah, I think it’s nice that you can that brands such as Nike are making clothing that works well with a football kit. It’s good to see that a shirt can go beyond the pitch almost. Obviously for the fans, it’s great that they have something they are comfortable in and looks the part and for us. It’s important for us to have something that represents Chelsea in the best way too, so it’s good to get that balance. I think mixing football and fashion and lifestyle pieces entices people in a good way to buy and wear the new kits.

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Kits are actually now being designed specifically for female football players. That shows a level of intent from the brands. Do you feel like the women’s game is being catered for professionally now?

Carney: It’s nice to have kit that actually fits and isn’t baggy or awkward because having the wrong kit genuinely does affect your performance. Also, it’s true that when you feel good, you play good and the kit is very much part of that. It goes from the boots up, there’s no point putting us female players in a shirt designed for men. Our body shapes are different so it’s not just the shirts but the shorts too - it’s important to have the right equipment that’s tailored for us as professionals so that we’re comfortable.

What’s it like to play for a club like Chelsea and have such a strong and loyal fanbase for the Women’s team?

Blundell: Our fanbase has got so much bigger over the years. The supporters have songs for every single player and you notice things like that which we never had in the past. Hopefully that growing support will only attract more fans to our games. We were hitting over 2,000 fans at our new stadium regularly which is a real positive and shows that there is a strong support for us. It’s great to be part of that and we hope that by what we achieved last year and what we would like to achieve this year we can progress even further. It’s important for us to go out to the public too and show what we’re about, we want to help promote our game because it’s entertaining when people come and watch.

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What memories would you love to create as you wear the new 18/19 away kit?

Carney: We want it to be something we win things in so that it is remembered as a winning jersey. It would be great to be able to look back at this shirt and say, that’s the one we achieved so much in. You always remember certain kits if you have a positive attachment to don’t you? Hopefully this is one we can look back at and remember a lot of good winning memories.

Mjelde: Wearing this in a Champions League game that puts us in the final or something like that would be special. I want that moment.

Kirby: I think it’s so important, you see so many teams now who say “we’re unbeaten in this colour kit”, hopefully we can do something like that and create a real attachment so that when we put on the kit, it’s got an extra level of power to help give us even more confidence. I want it to be a kit that gives us a chance to say “we don’t lose in this kit”.

Blundell: Not losing in a kit would be a great achievement but wearing it and feeling that sense of power would be a great feeling. I think that mentality of not wanting to lose ever is pretty much the belief we all share, we’re determined and that’s what we’re about as people and a club.

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The women’s game is now being taken more seriously, it’s not just about getting more attention but it’s being given more respect. Even from a marketing point of view, all those things help and it’s great to be a player right now." - Karen Carney
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Karen Carney MBE. One of only four women to earn over 100 England caps.

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Sock game: Ji So-Yun showcases the full kit.

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Like you’ve all said, there are sentimental attachments to shirts, are there some you’ve each kept from the past that hold good memories?

Blundell: Yeah for sure. The FA Cup winning shirts, I’ve kept them. Same for Champions League shirts because they are moments that you don’t get every day. They are moments you’ve worked so hard to get towards and by keeping the shirts it lets you go back to that moment and remember what was going through your head at that time, how you were feeling before and after the game. Those are quite precious memories that I want again.

Kirby: The FA Cups, Champions League, International games too, getting your first cap; you want to keep hold of those memories and you want to feel those moments again when you pull the shirt out the drawer or look at it in a frame.

On the flip side, have you seen shirts that you’ve pulled out the drawer and said to yourself  – I want to make sure that never happens again?

Kirby: They’ve been given away [laughs], the ones you see people doing twitter competitions with, they’re the ones with the bad memories... joking! I think more so it’s about learning. Those games we’ve lost in, are often more important because they teach you certain things. For example, my shirt from my first FA Cup Final is so special for that reason but then we lost the game and I know I definitely don’t want to feel that way again so it gives you more hunger. I always want to come home with a winning shirt.

The women’s game is in a strong place. But, how do you want the women’s game to be perceived by the wider public?

Kirby: We’re always trying to change perceptions, always trying to work hard to change some people’s mindsets. The more media coverage, and accessibility people have to watch us on TV, or actually going to a ground will make a huge difference. We want to come across as strong sports women, those that love to play football and want to be successful while doing it. Every year more and more people are interested in the women’s game, and I think the more we keep playing and impressing those who thought otherwise we will to continue grow the sport.

You can suit up in the 18/19 Chelsea Away Kit from today here.


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