‘I do put a lot on myself but to me it isn’t a job’ - Freya Louis on launching women’s football into the stratosphere
- Credit: Archant
On and off the football pitch one Suffolk woman is making waves in her community.
Suffolk born and bred Freya Louis is the manager of Needham Market Women’s Football team, one of the county’s most successful female clubs.
It’s quite a challenge to keep up with everything Freya, 23, is doing; as well as managing a footballing side Freya is also involved in developing the women’s game at both club and league level, she is an avid blogger writing about her experiences as a “Happy Gaffer” and this year launched the “We Are” campaign which aims to get more women into football both on and off the pitch.
None of this work is paid.
Instead when she’s not doing any of her volunteering work Freya works in PR and marketing for a construction company; a job which sees her managing websites and flying drones across the country, a far cry from her life on the pitch.
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Her dedication to sport seems only natural given her background, as the daughter of former Ipswich Witches speedway driver Chris Louis.
Whilst Freya makes clear that Speedway was never for her lots of other sports did grab her attention including netball and dancing.
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Despite these other interests, it was always football where Freya felt most at home.
“The one sport that stuck with me was football,” said Freya
“I use football as a release from my day to day life.”
Freya started her footballing life on the pitch with local side Copplestonians, where she played for the best part of the decade until she was 18.
It was at this time that she was contacted by Needham Market who asked to be a player-manager but this role didn’t last long as Freya became sidelined with an injury.
“I decided player manager was not for me while I was injured,” said Freya.
“I decided I would focus on manager. It was a no brainer really.”
Since then Freya and her Needham Market team have gone on to make a massive impact in the game.
“In two years we have done so much; getting promotion in our first year, introducing a reserve team in the second year and we were edging for both teams to get promotion before the season was voided,” said Freya.
One of the biggest challenges for Freya is balancing her managing career with her blogging and of course her day job.
“Getting the right balance is massive,” said Freya.
“With my day job I am often driving to Birmingham or Leeds and that takes two or three days out of my week.
“I take my laptop and when I am in my hotel room I try and do the We Are and the Happy Gaffer stuff.
“It does take an effect if I am not at training with the girls at Needham but thankfully I am backed by a really supportive team.
“It’s obviously trying to have a life as well.
“I often turn down going to friends because I know I have an article to write or I know I have got to sort out sponsorship packages or get the team ready for Sunday.
“I do put a lot on myself but to me it isn’t a job or chore I enjoy doing it.”
With so much to do in such a short space of time, how does she keep on going?
“My parents are a big inspiration, especially my dad,” said Freya.
“I think I have learned a lot from him and the way he handles situations.
“Especially as a manager you do make decisions that are not liked by all. You can’t be a manager if you want to be liked.”
Another big inspiration for Freya has been current Chelsea women manager Emma Hayes.
Hayes’ Chelsea side is one of the best in English women’s football and Hayes herself is considered one of the sport’s best managers.
“They way she manages her team, everything she does. I look up to her massively.”