Last updated: 7 November 2023
    4 min read

    In Partnership with Rebel Girls

    Fran Kirby

    Fran Kirby’s mum was her driving force, until she lost her unexpectedly. Find out how Kirby rose above loss to represent England at two world championships—just like her mum predicted.

    Fran Kirby. Forward, English. Born: 29 June, 1993.

    The day of Fran’s very first football practice, she refused to go. A coach had spotted Fran playing at school and invited her to a session with his team. But all the kids on the team were older than seven- year-old Fran, and she was so nervous!

    Fran’s mum was patient. She knew Fran just needed a little bit of encouragement. She convinced Fran to try it out, and after that first session, Fran was hooked.

    “Every time I score, I celebrate like the kid I was playing in the park.”

    Football Stories: Fran Kirby

    In no time, Fran perfected her passes, traps, and goal shots with a big grin on her face. Fran’s mum loved to see Fran play football, and Fran loved to see her mum smiling back at her in the stands. They celebrated each and every win as Fran grew up. Once, her mum gave Fran a birthday card that said she was confident Fran would one day play in huge tournaments around the world.

    ‘I think she really had in mind that I’d become a professional’, Fran says. ‘She knew that I loved it.’

    But when she was just 14 years old, Fran lost her mum suddenly. She missed her so much that she quit playing football. Who would she share her victories with? Who would help her through the losses? Fran put away her studs and pads and ball. It was too painful.

    Football Stories: Fran Kirby

    One day, Fran’s friend asked her to play in an amateur league. Fran was still sad, but after a few friendly games, Fran knew she was ready to continue pursuing her dream of playing professionally.

    Even though her mum isn’t here, Fran knows she would be proud. After all, she’s already played in two major world championships, just as her mum predicted.

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    Illustration by Britney Phan

    Originally published: 28 September 2023