When you have a big football match to play on a Sunday, most of us would prefer an early night on the Saturday. A quiet one in front of the TV. However, for Radio 1 DJ Monki, aka Lucy Monkman, that isn’t an option. She’s behind the decks into the wee hours before grabbing a couple of hours sleep and heading off to play for her team AFC Phoenix in south London. We spoke to Monki about her love of football and how she manages to fit in playing around her work as a DJ.
How long have you been playing football?
I started when I was about five, playing with my cousin down the park. I played with the boys in the playground at school and I carried on playing with boys until I was told to stop by the FA! Once you reach a certain age you’re not allowed to any more and the schools I went to didn’t have a girls’ team so I really didn’t have an opportunity. I played at a few academies, Chelsea and Fulham, then stopped for a long time before getting back into it.
When did you stop playing?
I stopped when I was about 15 or 16. I basically discovered clubbing. Then I started again when I was 20. I joined quite a low league just to get back into it and played five-a-side. I trialled for London Bees, who are WSL2 [Women’s Super League 2, to be renamed FA Women’s Championship from 2018-19], but the commitment they needed was too high along with my job. I joined the team I’m in now [AFC Phoenix] in the London and South East Division, so it’s still a pretty high level. If you compared it with the men’s pyramid we’d be conference [National League].
How often do you play now?
We train during the week and play matches on Sundays, which can be hard for me with work. I have a tour manager to take me to my gig on a Saturday night and then take me straight home. I’ll sleep in the car on the way there, then I’ll sleep on the way back and then I’ll sleep at home for a few hours and wake up for the game! That’s how I manage it. If I’m DJing abroad obviously it can be impossible, though there have been a few times when I’ve flown back from Ibiza and gone straight to a game.
What’s your favourite thing about football?
The camaraderie is probably my favourite thing. It always revolves around mates. It’s something you’re sharing with 20 other people who have been playing with you every week for the past several months, in the rain and the cold.
And it’s escapism as well. Whenever I play footy I don’t think about anything else. When you’re on the pitch you’re in the moment.
What position do you play?
I’ve played every position this season except centre back and in goal! Usually I play right wing, or number ten – up top sometimes.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into football now?
Five-a-side is great way to get into it, because it can be a proper leveller. Eleven-a-side might be a bit tricky at first, but there are plenty of grassroots teams. There’s a team in Hackney called Romance FC, they all started playing only three years ago and didn’t even know how to kick a ball. Now they play together every week and they’re always accepting new players. If anyone in east London wants to join a new team I highly recommend them.