By Taruka Srivastava | Freelance journalist

June 14, 2022 | 3 min read

Ahead of the kick-off of the Uefa Women’s Euros next month, England team captain and midfielder Leah Williamson, forward Nikita Parris and defender Millie Bright opened up about their journeys and initial struggles to influencer Elz the Witch in the Pepsi Max web series ‘Icons Unlocked.’

The inaugural episode featured the three footballers reflecting on growing up with a lack of female peers within the sport, with Williamson speaking about having to play for the boys’ Sunday League team. Parris also touched on feeling a responsibility to be an inspiration to young, female BAME players in an effort to diversify women’s football.

They further discussed how a career in football can seem like a pipe dream; their role in the growth of women’s football; and their positions as role models for the next generation of footballers.

Williamson said: “If anyone said that they saw the rise of women’s football coming, they’re lying. The recent boost in popularity of the sport has been monumental to witness and an honor to be a part of. The Pepsi Max ‘Icons Unlocked’ series has provided a great platform for Nikita, Millie and I to show our personalities off the pitch, not only as football players but people whose hard work is finally paying off.

“We hope that through this web series we can inspire more aspiring football players to make their dreams come true too.”

The new content series from Pepsi Max continues the PepsiCo commitment to accelerating the future of women’s football through its ongoing sponsorship of the Women’s Euros. The beverage company’s work in nurturing and supporting women’s football through ‘Icons Unlocked’ follows a range of global initiatives, and complements its ongoing partnership with Uefa on its wider women’s initiatives and tournaments.

Georgina Meddows Smith, GBI marketing director, said: “It’s been an exciting few years for Pepsi Max with our sponsorship of Uefa Women’s Football and being part of the sport as it grows in popularity and interest year-on-year. Through initiatives such as ‘Icons Unlocked,’ featuring three incredibly talented and inspiring footballers, we’re determined to help take women’s football to new heights by shining a light on the star players, as well as highlighting to women that a career in football is possible.”

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