Three Derby Uni women scholars combine football journalism with playing

Three talented football-playing young women have been awarded scholarships for the University of Derby’s football journalism course which will allow them to study for a specialised degree while chasing their dreams of playing at the highest level.

Romanian under-19 international Nicoleta Toporas, Welsh goalkeeper Caitlin Forrester and former Hereford Ladies defender Erin Cooke join the Rams Ewes for the new season. They join Olivia Fox, the first scholar, who made her first team debut for the Derby club last season.

The scholarship was the brainchild of Peter Lansley, the university’s football journalism senior lecturer, who has been a strong advocate for promoting women within the football reporting industry.

He said: “The exponential rise of women’s football over the past five years is still to be matched in the press box. So we’re encouraged that our unique scholarship, to redress that gender imbalance in the industry and also to support women playing football, is bearing fruit.

“The university’s football team will be improved with our four scholars and this will only enhance our partnership with Derby County FC Women. In our own small way, we want to help make the big difference.”

Broadcaster Jacqui Oatley helped launch the programme. She said: “I think it is fantastic that the programme has come to fruition. It’s a win-win situation.”