At age 13, Olivia is already a celebrity in her hometown of Leicestershire, Great Britain, for being an activist and fundraiser for the Teenage Cancer Trust and a charity which helps children living in poverty in Brazil, among other things. But it was her love for the game of soccer that has led to her latest crusade.
After a match during gym class last November, a boy classmate punched her, Olivia wrote in an op-ed for the Telegraph newspaper.
“I got really emotional and hurt. He said to the teacher that he didn’t like a girl being better than him.
“This is my worst memory but I have lots of other stories. Boys have pulled down their sleeves to shake my hand sometimes - I’ve felt like I shouldn’t be playing. They’ve got no right to be rude to people just because they’re a different gender.
“At primary school girls wouldn’t get passed to. I quit the team as I lost interest. I remember a parent called me a lesbian once. It upset me because it doesn’t matter what you turn out to be — you’re still a person.”
That homophobic parent who heckled Olivia by labeling her a lesbian, just because she’s a talented soccer player, really upset her, she wrote: “It upset me because it doesn’t matter what you turn out to be — you’re still a person.”
Her story has generated a lot of buzz on Twitter, including supportive statements referencing the homophobic stereotype that girls who are good at sports must be lesbians.
As of this writing, the 13 year old hasn’t announced her sexual orientation. But she did reveal what she told that boy who punched her.
“So I asked him if he loved his Mum, and what would he think if a man punched her in the stomach whilst she was walking along the street?” Olivia told Football And The City. “That made him think twice.”
According to that interview, she’s decided to “turn a negative into a positive,” and make an educational film about sexism in soccer. She tweets regularly about this effort, and has shared her story with the world, earning thousands of Twitter followers.
As a young girl who has been punched while playing football by a Boy & had so many sexist comments I just wanted to bring out a Kick Out Sexism Poster.Please RT or share my Poster so we can make a change for young girls wanting to play football as an equal without sexist comments pic.twitter.com/vbR8Vjo45Y— Little Olivia (@LittleOlivia7) April 10, 2019
Olivia has been an activist since the age of 7, raising thousands of dollars and finding support from celebrities across the worlds of sport, entertainment, and British society, including England’s Prince Harry.
Olivia created a GoFundMe account to support her latest cause. She’s raised $828 of her $6.5K goal.
Thank You Jess, I am starting to get some great support now to make an educational film for all primary schools to educate boys at a young age that sexism & violence is not cool & it will also give young girls the belief they Can play football as an equal. Thanks x pic.twitter.com/XyUX0J88hb— Little Olivia (@LittleOlivia7) February 14, 2019
“I have played the game since I was four years old,” Olivia wrote on her GoFundMe page. “Like many girls I have had sexist abuse from boys — and even some parents — simply for being a girl playing football. As if football should only be played by boys!”
Her father, Gary, told Football And The City he’s proud of his daughter, and that her fight has been an eye-opener for him as a man.
“If I didn’t have a daughter I would never have known what girls go through when they try to play football. It’s unbelievable! Olivia has been called all sorts of names by boys, who cover up their hands with the end of their shirt sleeves so as not to touch her ‘girl skin’ when they shake hands pre-match. And I’ve heard parents shout things like ‘Softie! You’re letting a girl get the ball!’ from the side of the pitch when their sons are playing against Olivia.”