When Marty Trifonova moved to the UK from Bulgaria at just seven years old, she had a lot of catching up to do. Unable to speak English, and with no friends to rely on in those difficult first months, it was a huge challenge.
Then Marty found the thing that would transform her life. “When I moved here, football was all anyone played,” she says. “I watched from a distance at first, then joined in. I didn’t know any English words but that’s how I started making friends.”
But Marty’s love for football was opposed by her mother, and her playing days abruptly ended. “My teacher set up a trial for Brentford FC but my mum didn’t let me go. She said football was a boys’ sport and girls can’t play.”
When Marty got a job with Ealing Council in west London five years ago, she looked for a local women’s team, and joined National Lottery-supported Actonians LFC, where she’s a winger. Marty, 28, enjoys the friendships she’s made there, as well as the football. “It’s incredible. I’ve literally invited the entire team to my place to listen to music and hang out.”
Club facilities have vastly improved with the help of National Lottery support – including the pitch. Marty says: “We used to play on a hockey field – in winter it would freeze and we kept injuring our backs and legs.
“Now we play on new astro turf. The funding really helps us progress and train better.” She’s right. Marty’s team have been promoted to Division 1 North of the Greater London Women’s Football League. And thanks to National Lottery players, over £50million* of funding has been raised for women’s football over the past decade.
When Marty was invited to meet England’s star striker Ellen White at a recent National Lottery event, it was a proud moment. “When my mum saw pictures of me and Ellen kicking a ball together, she finally accepted that I play football. She felt so proud that she sent a picture to my grandmother in Bulgaria.”
To find out how your numbers make amazing happen, visit national-lottery.co.uk/summer-of-sport
*Based on figures from April 2012 to March 2022.
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