Nike told they're damaging future of women's goalkeeping with Earps kit decision

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Nike told they're damaging future of women's goalkeeping with Earps kit decision

Former England goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain has slammed Nike's decision not to sell Mary Earps' shirt for a second tournament running, insisting it's a 'big miss'.

Earps addressed the decision before the World Cup kicked off last month and described it as 'hurtful'. Despite her efforts, including offering to pay for producing them herself, Nike doubled down and said it would not be possible as it is not part of their commercial strategy.

This has resulted in criticism from all corners, not least because of Earps' goalkeeping heroics at the tournament so far. She produced match defining saves in England's opening two group games against Haiti and Denmark, helping the Lionesses book their spot in the round of 16.

Chamberlain, who amassed 50 caps for England during her playing days and represented the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United, believes it's a missed opportunity to encourage young people to become goalkeepers.

"I think it's a miss [that the goalkeeper's shirt isn't available]," she exclusively told Ladbrokes. "I've got two little girls myself, and if I was still playing, I'd 100 per cent want them to be wearing my shirt.

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"It's a visibility thing, as well; there's always been an issue where there just haven't been enough goalkeepers in the women's game. Are there enough goalkeepers at the top level? Are they good enough?

"But if you're telling kids from a young age that they can't wear goalkeeper shirts, you're potentially missing out on so many young girls growing up wanting to play in goal. They're not going out there with goalie shirts on, diving around saying "I'm the keeper!" and enjoying themselves. By not offering that opportunity, you're kind of saying "no, that's not an option for you as a kid; you're just going to be an Alessia Russo, or a Georgia Stanway... you can't be a Mary Earps.

"I see loads of kids wearing goalkeeper kits from Premier League clubs, WSL clubs as well... not necessarily because they want to be goalkeepers to begin with, but because the shirts are bright and fun. If kids had the opportunity to put that Mary Earps shirt on, that could be where their goalkeeping journey begins."

England take on Nigeria in their round of 16 clash on Tuesday with kick off at 8:30am UK time. Should Sarina Wiegman's team progress, they will face either Colombia or Jamaica in the quarter-finals.

Hannah Pinnock

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