LAURA WOODS has revealed the origins of her sports career and revealed who she is as a “power woman”.
The sports presenter, who recently joined TNT Sports, spoke about her inspirations in an interview with and gave us an insight into the current landscape of women’s football Karen Millen.
Woods, 36, was first asked where her passion for the sport came from.
In response, she revealed: “For me, my passion for sports began when I was very young.
“I think my mother just kept forcing me and my brothers out of the house.
“We had so much energy. She [mum] was so busy and she had to make us make lots of friends, get out of the house and stay busy and when we were younger it was just our happy place.
Woods began her career in the industry as a runner for Soccer AM.
And while Woods also gained work experience at the Croydon Advertiser, she admitted she fell in love with a “magical thing” with television when she walked into the Soccer AM studio.
She has had an impressive career so far and has received numerous awards.
However, Woods admitted that the last six to eight months, split between the men’s and women’s World Championships, have been special for her.
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Woods has a particular affinity for the World Cup final in Qatar between Argentina and France, a game she describes as the “best soccer game I’ve ever seen.”
She added: “You had Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe and I don’t think you could have planned a better final.”
“Being there in person, watching it and working on it was just like when it was at its peak.”
That’s not to say the Women’s World Cup was any less significant, as Woods stressed that despite England’s heartbreak in the final, the game’s rapid growth over the last two years was great to see.
But Woods also recognizes the enormous challenges that women’s football still has to overcome and also recognizes that women want to work in the sports industry.
When asked what advice she would give to women or girls wanting to pursue a career in sports, she said: “I always remember that one of the first ‘advices’ I was ever told was from a producer.”
“He had heard that I wanted to be a presenter and at the time there was a real ‘Oh, you want to be a presenter’ and I said, ‘Yes, I do’.”
“And he said, ‘One piece of advice for women is that you can fall from a much higher height, so you have to be better’.”
“And it stuck with me at the time because I thought, ‘Why? This is really unfair’. But it’s unfair, there isn’t a level playing field yet.”
“What I took away from that was: OK, I’m going to be better, I’m going to work harder and do my research. What it actually did for me is it just made me a very good professional.”
She continued: “So I would tell everyone that it’s going to be very difficult because it’s very competitive, but you have to trust that you do all your homework and have your own ways of doing things and don’t try to replicate that.” someone else does it because it doesn’t work.
“And don’t be discouraged if you’re really bad at it to begin with, because everyone is busy presenting. It’s so unnatural and your job is to make the unnatural look natural. And that’s hard.”
“It just takes practice and you’re going to fail and it’s going to be incredibly embarrassing, especially if it’s on camera. But, you know what? You’ll never do that again.”
Woods described gender inequality in football as “tiring”, citing comments from Fifa president Gianni Infantino that women need to “pick the right battles” to “convince us men of what we need to do in the fight for equality”.
She believes more needs to be done to level the playing field as rising interest is matched by what Woods describes as an “incredibly narrow-minded attitude” at the top of the game.
Financing is an example of this: the Jamaican national team had to crowdfund its way into the tournament because the Jamaica Football Association did not provide any funds.
However, former talkSPORT presenter Woods has taken inspiration from BBC Sport presenter Gabby Logan.
Woods referred to Logan as her “power woman” both as a child and as an adult.
Of Logan, she said, “I just watch everything she does and I just think she does it with so much class and ease.”
“There’s something about Gabby that I think is very rare in a lot of presenters: She has that authority.”
“You wouldn’t mess with her, but you would also go to the pub and have a pint with her and feel really comfortable around her.”
The growth of women’s football has been immense for all to see, with the World Cup semi-final between England and Australia being the biggest TV event of all time for Australians.
Woods believes the level of interest being shown means women’s football will explode even further over the next decade.
She explained: “I started working with ITV on Lionesses games two years ago and we did a game at St Mary’s and the goal was 8000.”
“We actually had to block off some of the stands and make sure our camera wasn’t pointed at those stands as much as possible.”
“Two years later the Lionesses’ Wembley Stadium was sold out and it was all about the finalissima. They played and beat Brazil.”
“Honestly it was the most wonderful experience and when you compare the two different events you can really appreciate the growth.”
“I watch them at the World Cup and I see the level of interest and the fact that boys and girls see these athletes as superstars and they don’t really care what gender they are.”
“Leah Williamson said something about it. She said, ‘If you don’t want to find out, that’s fine, but this is going to blow up.’
“Women’s football will be everywhere in a few years and I’m all for it.”