Former Liverpool and City player Grace Vela trying to change the game

Former Liverpool and Manchester City player Grace Vela trying to change the game with women’s football brand Miss Kick… and calls on more WSL players to join the movement

  • Ex-Liverpool and Man City player Grace Vela launched Miss Kick in 2018
  • The women’s football brand aims to inspire the girls football community
  • The brand has turned into a global movement with members all over the world 
  • The Miss Kick Foundation gives a percentage of sales to grass roots clubs 

Ask every player in the Women’s Super League about their football experience growing up and they will likely tell you a variation of the same story.

Tales of fighting for opportunities, wearing kits three sizes too big, playing on boggy pitches and having little access to female role models.

That narrative, however, is changing for the current and future generations. A record £24million TV deal will bring more coverage and funding to the Women’s Super League than ever before while the FA have launched several initiatives to get more girls involved in football from a young age.

Grace Vella (above) is trying to change the game with women’s football brand Miss Kick

This is music to the ears of former Liverpool and Manchester City player turned businesswoman Grace Vella. Like many, she found there were fewer opportunities and a lack of representation for girls wanting to play football while she was growing up. That’s why in 2018 she decided to launch women’s football brand – Miss Kick.

‘I often felt like there wasn’t a way to represent myself as a female in the sport,’ Vella told Sportsmail.

‘It was reflected in the products I could buy, the opportunities I had. I wanted to try and change this for the next generation coming through.’

After her release from Manchester City at 18, Vella studied psychology at the University of Manchester, launching Miss Kick in her third year.

What started out as a stall selling t-shirts at her dad’s football tournament has turned into a global movement for Vella, with members all over the world.

‘Our hoodies, t-shirts and headbands are all about empowering and inspiring the girls football community,’ Vella says. ‘It’s more than just clothing, it’s about how it makes the girls feel when they put that t-shirt on – I want them to feel like they’re represented.’

Miss Kick’s hoodies, t-shirts and headbands aim to empower the girls football community

Vella played for Liverpool during her youth

But it’s not just about products and merchandise, at the heart of Miss Kick is its commitment to grass roots football and building a community.

‘Throughout lockdown we found that a lot of girls were reaching out to us on social media to say they felt isolated. We decided to create a WhatsApp group chat and this has now grown to over 650 girls from all over the world

‘We’ve got girls in America, Australia, Canada, all coming together. Although it’s centered around football and their passion for football it’s turned into much more than that.

‘One story in particular is a young girl who sadly had a house fire and all the other girls bound together and sent her gifts in the post to replace the things she lost.’

Alongside the brand itself is the Miss Kick Foundation, which gives a percentage of sales to support grass roots football. ‘The Foundation is all about social enterprise,’ Vella explains. It’s all about levelling the playing field and giving more girls opportunity and access to play football. We’re in the process of transforming that into a charity and we’re hoping to bring out an app that brings everything together.’

Vella has forged a career for herself within the world of football, despite suffering the heartbreak of being released from both Liverpool and City. The options for female players who are let go from WSL clubs are much more limited than for those released from the Premeir League or the Championship.

‘There aren’t that many tiers to go down (in the women’s game) and I know a lot of girls who have been released and now don’t play at all because there isn’t that investment and structure in the lower leagues for them to keep playing and pursuing it as a career.

‘A big challenge for us as women’s players is that, unless you’re playing in the WSL or sometimes the Championship, you have to have another job and that’s such a big commitment and it is hard work to try and maintain your playing standards and have a job as well.

‘It’s such a big part of your life and you have this idea that this is what you’re going to do and for that to then be pulled away from you, psychologically that’s quite hard to deal with. There should be more support for everyone.’

Vela (bottom row, far right) launched Miss Kick after being released by Manchester City

What started as a stall selling t-shirts at her dad’s football tournament has turned into a global movement, with members all over the world

The likes of Nike, Adidas and Puma have started to sponsor some of the bigger female players but Miss Kick is the only brand solely focused and committed to promoting the women’s game and Vella hopes they may be able to work with a well-known player in the future.

‘We’d love to be able to work with some female players in the game, potentially work with a club as well,’ she says.

‘I’d like to think that a female player might want to support Miss Kick because of what we stand for. Obviously Nike are a bigger brand than us and have a bigger budget but I’d like to think that a player might see Miss Kick and think “do you know what, they’re supporting women’s football, they’re specifically for this group of people that have not had a platform or a voice in the past.”’

There is every chance more women’s football brands could emerge following the success of Miss Kick, but how would Vella feel about some competition? ‘That’s not a problem!’ she laughs. ‘‘I’d like to think that other people understand that women’s football needs these types of brands and businesses to inspire them so I’d definitely welcome them.’

For more information on Miss Kick visit 

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