By Faye Hackwell Portsmouth Football Club’s new Her Game Too Ambassador is Vicky Lamb, who was part of the club’s women’s section as a youth player.
She started playing football with a group of older boys in the street outside her house when she was aged six and became hooked on the game immediately.
“My mum went straight out and bought me a Pompey top so I would fit in with the boys,” Vicky recalls.
“From that moment on, I was Pompey through and through and I was fortunate enough from the age of eight to play for the Portsmouth women’s team in the youth set ups.
“That was only possible due to my mum and my nan encouraging me no matter what - taking me training whatever the weather.
“They didn’t drive so would stand with a tea to keep them going and if they couldn’t take me, they made sure I could get there.”
It was Vicky’s mum who took her to Fratton Park for her first Portsmouth game and she was instantly swept up in the noise, excitement and camaraderie of being part of the crowd.
Her highlights of supporting the team over the years include seeing them lift the FA Cup trophy in 2008, winning League Two on her birthday in 2016/17 with a 6-1 home victory over Cheltenham and being promoted to the Premier League in 2002/03 - even though it involved making the “dreaded” 700-mile round trip to St James’s Park.
But alongside the memorable cup runs and trips to Anfield and Old Trafford, there have also been difficult times.
“It’s very well known that the main low for Portsmouth fans was the time when we nearly lost out club and were on the verge of liquidation.
“I’m so thankful to the Pompey Supporters Trust and the fans who clubbed together to buy the club, as there would have been a big hole in the city if our beloved club had gone.”
Vicky wants other women and girls to have the opportunity to enjoy football as she has done since childhood and she has joined Her Game Too to help create a welcoming environment for all within the sport.
“I had my mum taking me to games so I could go and enjoy everything Portsmouth has to offer, but if you don’t have that it can be daunting.
“Unfortunately I have witnessed sexism and been a victim myself.
“My latest experience was a couple of years ago - I had not long been with my partner, now my fiancée, and we drew Southampton in the cup.
“She wasn’t a football fan then but she knew it was a big game and meant a lot to me.
“She bought tickets for me as a surprise and Tweeted about it, as she knew how happy it made me.
“That Tweet caused online abuse containing sexist and homophobic comments.
“Luckily since then, I’ve managed to show my partner the good in football and the joy it can bring.
“She’s now a Pompey fan and joins me at games, which is really nice.
“She loves the atmosphere and how loud the Pompey fans can be when they get behind the team.”
Vicky hopes to help organise a dedicated Her Game Too fixture at the club this season and to hold a coffee morning for female fans to interact and build friendships.
“I have lots of ideas so a meeting with the club is a priority to see what we can achieve together.
“I feel everyone who is part of Her Game Too wants to see the end goal of sexism being eliminated from sport and a safe space for all being created, so I’m really excited to be a part of that.”