Author of children’s picture book with football focus wins praise from Lioness

Author of children’s picture book with football focus wins praise from Lioness
Beth Mead (right) said Catherine Emmett’s book was ‘just the thing to inspire future Lionesses’ (Catherine Emmett/Mike Egerton/PA)

The author of a children’s picture book about a young female footballer has spoken of her excitement after receiving validation from Beth Mead who said it was “just the thing to inspire future Lionesses”.

Catherine Emmett created picture book Sammy Striker And The Football Cup after noticing there did not seem to be any books of a similar nature with a sports focus, and wanted to continue the positive legacy the Lionesses winning the Euros had on girls.

“I just thought, have I just not come across them?” the 43-year-old, who lives in Essex, told the PA news agency.

Woman posing with bookCatherine Emmett made a children’s picture book with a football focus to fill a gap in the market (Catherine Emmett/PA)

“And then I started Googling and thought, there’s not any, really, which I found really odd as surely there’s a huge gap in the market.

“Picture books are used to inspire kids, so I thought, why don’t I make one to inspire them to do sport as well – it was just a no brainer.”

Central character Sammy initially struggles to kick a ball straight but then learns to embrace this and kick to the side.

She said Sammy “captures the inner anxiety that you’ve got as a kid of the idea that everyone can do something and you can’t”, with her hope that the book encourages young girls to believe in themselves, especially in more male-dominated areas.

To ensure her message reached her target, she wanted the book to include a quote from a leading football figure, so set about messaging the agents of the Lionesses and sporting pundits and was shocked when the golden boot winner in the 2022 Women’s Euros supplied one.

Mead supplied the comment – “an absolutely fantastic book – just the thing to inspire future Lionesses” – which was met with amazement by Ms Emmett.

“She just personifies exactly what the book’s about,” she said.

“If you read her back story, she grew up in Whitby and was playing with the boys and it wasn’t easy and I hoped the book would appeal to her persistence and resilience.

“I didn’t grow up to be a footballer, so it was just really nice to get that [validation] that this is in the right place.”

White paper with comments on itBeth Mead praised Catherine Emmett’s book (Screengrab/PA)

Although Mead is not in England’s squad for the upcoming Women’s World Cup due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury, she has been a pivotal figure in football and was crowned Sports Personality Of The Year 2022.

Ms Emmett tweeted about the quote on Twitter, which has received over 20,000 views, and was met with a further comment from the football star, which read: “Amazing book, the next generation are going to love it for sure.”

“I always get a bit embarrassed about direct tagging people and I thought, is she going to be like ‘really, you had to tag me’, but then she liked it,” she said.

“I’ve copied and pasted the tweet to keep forever now.”

The author has played a lot of sport over the years including taking part in numerous triathlons and the “spirit of sport is really important to me”.

“I really want little girls to get that too”, she added.

Many Twitter users have also interacted with Ms Emmett, leaving comments about how their daughters or granddaughters are “going to love this book”.

“There’s a really nice gentleman whose granddaughter plays at club level for one of the [professional football teams] – she’s around 10 or 11 – and she said can she get a book and can I dedicate it to her class at school,” she added.

Woman smilingCatherine Emmett said she has ‘copied and pasted the tweet to keep forever now’ (Catherine Emmett/PA)

“She bought the book to give to the seven-year-olds at school to say ‘I’m playing for this club, and you can do it too’.

“It’s really lovely to see that even kids who are 10 or 11 are paying it forward, and giving them a book to help them get to where they are.”

With the Women’s World Cup beginning on July 20, Ms Emmett said she is perhaps a “bit too excited” about it starting.

“When I was a kid, we used to have a massive England flag and would get really behind it”, she said.

“I’m really excited about it and we’ve been watching the Pele movie in preparation and we’ll definitely be watching and hoping they do well.

“The country needs a a lift and football brings people together.”

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