10

LILY

AGG

No one else knows this but...
I have had a nose operation for a snapped septum which happened playing football!  
 
Best piece of advice anyone has ever given me...
Football isn't always fair and often about politics and opinions. Trust your ability and play each game like it’s your last.
I love Football because...
I naturally wanted to play from 5 years old. Joined the boys team and football was all I knew.
1200px-Flag_of_England.svg.png

Age: 27

Height: 5''5

Position: Midfielder

Star Sign: Sagittarius

Place of Birth: Brighton

Nationality: 

LCL debut: 18/08/19

Previous clubs: Arsenal WFC, Brighton & Hove Albion WFC, Millwall Lionesses, Bristol City WFC, FFC Frankfurt, and Charlton Athletic WFC

 

Lilly Agg reflects on her footballing journey and looks ahead to international ambitions:

Written by Club Journalist Cassie Coombes

Twitter: @CassieCoombes98

 

From starting with her local boys’ team to playing football in Germany. Lily Agg reflects on her journey so far; revealing the challenges, the successes, her role inspiring the next generation and what a future after football looks like.

From starting with her local boys’ team to playing football in Germany. Lily Agg reflects on her journey so far; revealing the challenges, the successes, her role inspiring the next generation and what a future after football looks like.

When Lily Agg joined London City Lionesses ahead of the 2019/20 season, no one could have predicted that she would go through one of the biggest challenges of her career; one that would see her side-lined for the best part of a year. 

“It started off so well, I was training good and felt fit. Then I fractured my tibia against Reading in a friendly. That was my biggest injury to date,” she remembers. 

Working hard to get back on the pitch was the main aim for the 27-year-old and although rehab was difficult, she confesses that “trying to keep positive and push through” was the mindset that guided her through such a tough period. Having made her comeback against Sheffield United at the start of the 2020/21 campaign, the midfielder has since made eleven appearances this season, three of which earned her player of the match, demonstrating that she has regained her previous form.

“At the moment I am trying to get back to full fitness after being out last year. I’ve been playing 90 minutes consecutively and I think I’m cementing my place in the team and trying to push myself and get that sharpness back,” she remarks.

For Agg, the injury meant a long break from a sport that has been a consistent part of her life since the age of five when she first joined a local boys’ team. Despite being placed in the C team when she arrived for her first session with the boy’s, her natural ability ensured that initial decision was overturned. 

“I started when I was age five. My mum rang up the local boys’ team and said can I bring my daughter down. When she said daughter, they were a bit unsure.

“I remember there was an A, a B, and a C team. They put me in the C team straight away and my mum always tells me that by the end of the session I was in the A team with the boys.”

Having silenced the sceptics, Agg continued to play football with the boys until the age of twelve. The experience of playing boys’ football is one which she hails as fundamental in instilling a physicality in her game.

“I would say to young girls growing up now, if you can play with boys’ do it for as long as possible. Just in terms of physicality, it is really important. I think it’s really important for girls and their strength, and to develop their game as well because I think it’s a lot more fast-paced.”

After playing for the boys’ team for several years, Agg was approached by Brighton Centre of Excellence, a set-up which she joined at U12’s. Although football was always a priority for her, Agg reveals that growing up she was always aware of the need to have a back-up plan, particularly as women’s football had not reached the levels of professionalism that we see in today’s game.

“In women’s football it’s fantastic now that there’s a career and you can earn a living but growing up it was always important to follow education and have a backup plan. I’ve always moved things around, and football has always been the priority and the final goal has been to play as high as possible. When I played at Brighton, I studied at the University of Brighton to get my degree, and then it allowed me to teach alongside football.”

For Agg, football and education has always been a juggling act, and despite acknowledging that the demands of University and training put a strain on her time, she recognises the importance of working hard to sustain both.

“It was really tough,” she says letting out a sigh. “You’d love to be 100% in football but with studying that’s never the way. When I had big exams coming up, a dip in my football would happen, but sometimes I would focus too much on football and leave my essays and assignments to last minute. It is hard to find a balance. To be honest, a lot of times over the four years I would be saying to my mum, ‘I’m just going to quit – I’ve not got the time, I’m stressed.’ But now I look back, it was a tough four years but I‘m really glad I did it.”

Gaining the qualifications to teach physical education and lecture BTEC, has given Agg the opportunity to inspire the next generation of female footballers. Although some have been harder to convince than others, it is the small victories that bring the most reward.

“I think more and more girls are becoming open to the idea. With my job as a P.E Teacher, I’ve worked in various schools. Most recently, at the grammar school, girl’s football was unheard of - they didn’t really like the idea of it. When I would come in and say we’re going to do a bit of bench football they would be like, ‘what we want to do bench ball, not bench football.’ By the end of my time there, believe it or not, they would all be saying, ‘Miss can we play bench football.’

Despite enjoying inspiring the next generation of female footballers, Agg’s own footballing journey has provided her with opportunities to focus on her own game and push herself at the top level. The chance to join FFC Frankfurt in 2017 was a challenge she could not turn down. Considering Frankfurt’s history of European and domestic success, having won the UEFA Women’s Champions League on four occasions and the domestic title seven times, it is unsurprising that Agg took the decision to move to Germany and test herself at a club with so much history in the women’s game.

“It was a really good experience and something that was a massive challenge to me at the time and I really wanted to push myself at the top level. The German league is so competitive, and I was playing against teams like Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg, with some of the best players. I think in the English league there is quite a lot of disparity between your Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City who have a big budget and a lot of the best players, and your teams who are on the lower end, and teams do go into games, whether right or wrong, as strong favourites. Whereas in Germany, even at the bottom of the league, they are still very well-funded and organised. They might not have the best player’s, but the standard as a whole is very good.”

Yet, the high standard was not the only challenge that Agg encountered. Moving to Germany and experiencing a new language and culture made communicating with teammates and coaches particularly difficult. 

“I was really proud for pushing myself at that level and I did enjoy the football side, it was just very tough for me to live out there.

“I signed up to German lessons and was going on a regular basis. It was tough. German’s like to speak English and lots of them are good at it which helps, it’s a very different culture and turning up to training and having to go last in the queue because you have to watch first to gauge an understanding of the drill is hard.”

Despite the challenge of adapting to a new home, Agg enjoyed her time in Germany and acknowledges the important lessons she gained from experiencing a different style of football. The opportunity to travel and test herself at a high level made the overall experience a rewarding one. When asked about her other successes during her career, the 27-year-old names a few that she is particularly proud of.

“I think at a younger age, representing England is something I would always be proud of. Getting into U15, U17, U19 camps and captaining England vs France. Also playing with Bristol in the WSL was again another achievement. Those are strong achievements I will always hold with me.”

One ambition that Agg is hoping will soon become a reality is her desire to represent Ireland internationally. 

“I’d love to get a chance to play for Ireland,” she reveals. “My grandmother is Irish, and I’ve got lots of family over there from County Cork, so I am going through the process of being an Irish citizen currently. Hopefully if that all goes through, I would like to get the opportunity and the call up to the Irish national squad and try and make my grandmother proud and see what I can do internationally.”

With international ambitions on Agg’s radar, the midfielder is eager to continue to regain her full fitness and help London City achieve their ambitions in the FA Women’s Championship. When asked what path she would like to pursue after her footballing career, she reveals that she has always enjoyed coaching and would relish the opportunity to use her experience as a teacher to enter the coaching profession.

“I really enjoy coaching. If I am not teaching, I’m coaching, and I really have a strong passion for that. I think it’s so important for the next generation of girls to have good role models, good coaches, good knowledge. I think for me at some point after playing I’d love to look at going into coaching and work my way through my badges. Mel [Phillips] is somebody who I really admire and would aspire to be like – someone who’s a fantastic coach, who’s young, and worked her way up.”