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Madison Perry Q&A – December 2023

Thank you to Pundit_Pete (who writes the Reading Women match reports for The Tilehurst End) for pulling this Q&A together.

Name: Madison Perry
Country: England
Shirt number: 9
Position: Forward
Previous clubs: Denham United Ladies FC, Reading Women FC Academy

 STAR (Supporters Trust at Reading) have chosen to sponsor Madison (Maddie) Perry for the 2023/2024 season so we thought it would be great to meet up with Maddie and find out a bit more about her and her progression to the first team – such as, coincidentally, her middle name is Star!

From the time we spent with Maddie, and the Q&A below, you can see why Maddie is part of the Reading squad: she clearly loves football, is relaxed but focused, with an infectious personality (meaning we had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs throughout our chat). For someone at the start of her professional footballing career Maddie is confident and appears to have a wise head on young shoulders.

Q: You’re only young but have been at Reading FC for some time now – tell us about your journey through the ranks to the first team

I started off at grassroots, age six or seven, playing for my local team Denham United Ladies.

I trialled for Reading at the age of 13 and was successful (fortunately). However, the next two years were under Covid restrictions so we were in and out of training (with only a few matches), which made it quite hard and was not great for development.

Fortunately, the coaches believed in me and in 2022 I joined up with the first team- as well as fitting in school  (year 11). After that (initial leap) it was first team, first team, first team for the next season.

Unfortunately, I picked up an injury in that year but recovered and got the opportunity to play (making her debut in the first match of the 2022/2023 season away to Manchester United) and get more appearances for the first team from there.

Football has been part of my life since the age seven but I’ve only really taken it seriously since joining Reading. Denham United Ladies was a lot of fun and (understandably at such a young age) more of a social thing.

Did you encounter any issues or problems along the way to becoming a professional football player?

Not really, although it’s hard to balance school with football. I have training Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and play on a Sunday – with school on Monday and Thursday – so there’s not really an ‘off day’ and it’s tiring (there’s no lie in) but it’s alright and I manage it quite well.

I’m more of a football based person, and training focused, rather than academic – I’m not a fan of school but I get it done ‘when I can’ (said whilst chuckling and reconfirming that she does get it done!)

It was great to see you back on the pitch (85th sub v Watford 12th November 2023) after such a long injury. What was the injury, is everything okay now and what was it like being on the side lines and in rehab to get back to full fitness?

 I ruptured my AITFL (Anterior Inferior Tibiofibular Ligament) the ligaments between my two shin bones.

Rehab’s tough, you have tough days and you have good days (you go forward and sometimes two steps back) but you just have to have the right mentality to get through it and, after being injured last season, I knew what I was getting myself back into.

It was easier (this season) because of the people I had around me and other players in rehab with me and doing the pitch side work with me – which also made it more ‘fun’ – but, don’t get me wrong, there were some tough days.

It was a good moment coming back on to the pitch (as a sub). When Liam called my name it was ‘okay, this is my time’.  It was a proud moment for me and my family.

It’s a new league, new management team (Liam and Dan) and new squad – how different is it to last season and what’s the mood in the camp like?

Massive change, new management, with a whole new new squad and a new league which is a lot more physical and a lot more competitive where anyone can beat anyone.

I feel that (as a squad) we like that challenge. The group of girls are great, with a great attitude (both mentally and physically), we big ourselves up and we know that we can win the game and every game we play.

We are nearly half way through the season are there any teams or players (apart from Reading FC obviously) that you’ve been particularly impressed with, to date?

Watford surprised me a lot (Maddie made her return to football, as an 85th minute substitute), very dominant on the ball and not to be underestimated, being a newly promoted club to the Championship.

Durham were very physical (an away 2-0 victory for the Royals on the 3G all weather pitch).

There’s some good teams in this league, Southampton and Crystal Palace (as the league reflects) but anyone can beat anyone.

What qualities do you think makes a good football player?

 The right mindset. If you go in thinking you will lose or this player is better than me or training will be bad, then training will be bad, you will lose and the player will be better than you. You’ve just got to go in thinking and believing you can do anything.

Your confidence will go up and if you play with confidence you’re the best version of yourself.

Do you have any rituals, superstitions or routines to go through before (or after) a football match?

I don’t, I just go with the flow, every game, whatever comes naturally and let whatever happens on the pitch talk.

How would your teammates describe you?

Loud! But on the pitch I’m a team player, selfless, fast, I hope, and – after asking Mitch (Marketing manager) for feedback – ‘maybe a bit of a Princess’ (she laughed and agreed with Mitch) but confident at the same time (and you’ve got to be playing at the age of 16).

You must spend a lot of time travelling on the team coach what do you do (on route) to make the time pass quicker?

Some people like their own time, air pods in, watch a movie or just chatting to other players. Some people like playing games or cards. It helps the time go faster, getting to know each other as we’re still quite a new team.

On the last trip, me, Charlie (Estcourt), Lily (Woodham) and Dee (Deanna Cooper) played Partners – Dee and I won!

What would we be surprised to learn about you – off field and away from football?

Away from football? I really don’t don’t know, you’ll have to ask someone else. All I do is play and watch football (and to be fair to Maddie, with football being her passion and school taking up all seven days of the week there isn’t really much time to fit in much else!)

My Dad is a West Ham football fan, my whole family is really, so I go and watch them occasionally.

Who were your favourite players to watch growing up?

Being honest, I didn’t really watch much women’s football when I was growing up (Maddie has been playing football since the age of seven) so I didn’t know many players when I first joined the team.

Fara Williams, probably. I haven’t seen many of her matches but I’ve seen lots of clips of her and she’s such a talented footballer player – and she was my U14’s coach at Reading too.

What are the biggest sacrifices you have had to make to pursue your footballing career?

Probably just the social life but I can balance that if I need to be in training early the next day, and go home early or meet them during the day – but I don’t feel I am missing out on anything.

Are there any unsung heroes that we might not be aware?

My Dad. I feel like he believed in me more than I did and it was my Dad who gave me the opportunity to trial for a couple of professional clubs, but without any pressure – he lets me do what I want to do and what’s best for me really.

My Dad has sacrificed a lot of his time for me, driving me up and down the country and, also my Uncle, as he’s followed me all around the country to watch me play.

Oxford said ‘no’ to me, so I went to the Reading for a bit of fun, to show them what I’m about, play with freedom and the coaches saw something in me and they gave me the opportunity to sign.

(Tongue firmly in cheek…) It wasn’t Liam Gilbert at Oxford at the time, was it?

(Laughing) I actually don’t know! But (to be fair to Liam) it was U14’s level at the time.

What advice would you give young players starting or trying to break through into the first team?

Just keep working hard and don’t give up easily.

(With Women’s football still growing) It’s hard for a women footballer to come through the ranks and because we’ve grown up around men’s football it’s all about ‘men, men, men’ and some girls are afraid to play football and go outside of their comfort zone.

I feel it can be easier for girls to quit (compared to boys) so don’t let other people judge you (out of the game), don’t be shy but, instead, be the bigger person, be confident and believe in yourself. Get the right support around you and, if you really want something, just go for it!

As Womens football continues to grow quickly and rapidly (which is brilliant) what areas or changes would you like to see improved (or implemented) now?

Funding. Getting the balance between the Championship, the Women’s Super League (WSL) and funding for teams outside of the four or five big names.

For example, I believe some of our competitors still train in a local park. Men’s football would not be at the quality levels they currently are, if they had to train in a park.

And with this funding the sport will get a lot more competitive and a lot easier for girls to play football –  not just in the UK but worldwide – and the quality will only continue to improve.

Quick fire questions:

What are currently watching / streaming?

Sex Education (Netflix) but season four is a bit weird and gone off the scales (the first three seasons were good) but I’m going to carry on watching it through to the end.

Last live music you saw or what are you currently listening to?

Good question, I quite like all genres. I quite like Country music at the moment ‘I bet you didn’t expect that’, a bit of LeAnn Rimes.

And, at the other end of the spectrum, R n B music (all of it, no particular favourites).

What food do you most look forward to after a match or training?

After a match it would be a Nando’s, you can’t beat a Nando’s! As a team, this season, we do get Papa John’s Pizza (and no pineapple on Pizza, that’s just wrong!)

Who is (or thinks they are) the funniest player in the squad?

Emily (Orman) thinks she’s the funniest, she doesn’t stop talking. There’s quite a few funny players and characters. Bethan (Roberts) is pretty funny and just says it how it is.

Whos the loudest player?

Ah, Emily, 100% or, to be fair, Lily (Woodham), on the coach you can hear her just laughing whilst playing a game….or Brooke (Hendrix) she’s loud too.

Does the team have music or a playlist before a match (and who selects the songs to play)?

Lily’s on music, she’s the team DJ. Normally just chooses songs that everyone knows, upbeat tunes so everyone is in the mood for the match.

Finally, there’s been good support at the SCL Stadium this season, do you have any message for the loyal Royal fans?

 Please keep coming down and supporting us. We just want to hear you on the pitch, being loud – as it’s like a 12th player for us. And thanks.