Editor's Note: This was originally from over a year ago, but since Steph is most certainly the lady of the moment with regards to the Olympic Games, we thought we'd bring back our interview with the Sunderland lass who's currently a-top the world.
It's easy to forget that football isn't just a man's game. We watch the men's game, we listen to men analysing it, and men, generally, write about it afterwards. In fact, it is likely that only a few of us could name a lot of the England team in the women's game. However, we at Roker Report have our eyes on the bigger picture.
Women's football is getting bigger and bigger, and in a week that Sunderland ladies did the club proud to win the league, I got in touch with Arsenal and England star Steph Houghton, who just so happens to be Sunderland through-and-through. It is an exciting time for women's football with their own Super League being launched recently, meaning that the women's game will be regularly broadcast on television, instead of being a one-off cup final at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon.
I talked to the tough-tackling defensive midfielder, to get her thoughts on the sport, and of course, her beloved Sunderland.
So Steph, when did you realise that you wanted to be a footballer?
Steph Houghton: I have always played football from about the age of four with my dad in the yard, always loved the game and always seen myself playing at it any level. Without my family and friends pushing me on though, I don't think I would be at the level I am at today.
Can you talk us through the average week of a women's footballer?
SH: A typical week would be: Monday - recovery day (swimming, rehab and core stability work) Tuesday - AM: strength and conditioning session PM: club training Wednesday: running session from our England training programme, could be speed or aerobic. Thursday AM: strength and conditioning session PM: club training / or GAME Friday - Cool Down, rehab work Saturday - rest day Sunday - Game day."
If you had to, who would you compare yourself to in the men's game?
SH: Someone who is versatile, either Darren Fletcher or Michael Essien, who can play any where at the back and in midfield.
It is fair to say that women's football is growing, and is bigger than ever. How do you think the new Super League will effect this?
SH: Women's football is definitely growing! A lot more football supporters are more knowledgeable about the women's game, and realise that it's not much different to the men's in the amount of time and commitment every one in the game puts into the sport. It is a massive year in women's football with the launch of the Super League, this has allowed clubs to become semi professional, it's shown on ESPN (highlights show on a Tuesday night) and has allowed fans to come and watch the games as it doesn't clash with mens football, allowing the game to hopefully grow some more.
Are you looking forward to the World Cup?
SH: The World Cup in Germany is going to be massive! The Germans have advertised and promoted it very well and a lot of the games have already been sold out... It will be the biggest World Cup so far.
Can England go all the way?
SH: I'm sure England will be in there with a chance but we know we cant take any team lightly. Our first aim is to get out the group and then take each game as it comes. We will be prepared and we have already shown we can compete with the best in the world after beating USA 2-1 in a friendly in April.
Is it strange being a Sunderland girl and playing against them?
SH: Yeah of course it is strange, Sunderland are my home town club and it was only due to circumstances that I left (to play in the Premier League). When we played them recently in the FA Cup I had a mix of emotions because I always want Sunderland to do well, they deserve to be in the top league and I have a lot of friends there who I grew up with.
Would you consider a move back to Sunderland?
SH: I've always thought I would return to Sunderland and thought if Sunderland were in the Super League then the possibility would of been high for me to return. I will always consider my home team in the future.
Do you look out for Sunderland's results, both the men and the women?
SH: I'm a massive Sunderland supporter and have been since I was little. If I'm home I'll get to as many games as I can, if not I'm always checking the scores and hoping that we get three points every week. I look out for the women's scores as well.
How do you rate the current team and this season as a whole?
SH: I think we had a brilliant start to the season, we competed with the best we had a couple of great wins against the likes of Arsenal at home and Chelsea away. But i think the dip in form has been due to a lot of injuries, when the bulk of the squad is injured it's hard to get momentum, but we have to trust in Steve Bruce and the players and we can have a good end to the season.
My thanks go to Steph for chatting to us, and proving that not only can be as good as the men on the field, but also talking off it! Be sure to check out the women's Super League on ESPN to see how our very own midfield dynamo gets on. Who knows, if our injuries continue to mount up, she might be getting a call from Brucey sooner rather than later. Until then... Haway the Lass!