We speak to coaches and players around the UK who have been inspired by the Chelsea forward talking about the matter

For Sabah Mahmood, coach of east London side FC Leytonstone’s under-14 girls, Lauren James’ hat-trick during Chelsea’s 3-1 dismantling of Manchester United on Sunday wasn’t the only highlight. It was also seeing Fran Kirby come on as a second-half substitute, with the club’s all-time top scorer having recently spoken out about body image pressures in football. “Fran Kirby comes on and my girls just went crazy!” says Mahmood, who took her team to the match after taking up an invite from Brown Girl Sport, which advocates for south Asian girls in sport.

Mahmood had previously spoken to her young players about Kirby’s comments. In a documentary released by her club late last year, Kirby revealed that she gets “called fat all the time” in an off-the-cuff moment filmed at training. “I was talking to some of the girls on my team about it,” recalls Mahmood. “It just opened up a conversation that didn’t exist before, but it was definitely in the girls’ minds.”

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