In the first in a new series of interviews focusing on the people who make up West Midlands Police, WMPeople speaks to response officer Netty Manca who, when she’s not keeping south Birmingham residents safe, is keeping goal for the force’s ladies football team.
Club captain Netty talks about her role responding to 999 emergencies; how she took a barge to reach a man in need of first aid; the booming popularity of women’s football; and how Type 1 diabetes hasn’t been a police career barrier.
Oh…and she confirms she’s not earning £300,000 a week!
How long have you been playing football? I started aged 11 with a girls team – Leafield Athletic based in Wythall – that was set-up by a friend’s dad. We didn’t do football at school at the time.
Why goalkeeper…don’t you have to be a bit mad to be a keeper? I ended up playing in goal one day when we were short of a keeper; I enjoyed it and seemed pretty good so I stuck with it. I’ve picked up my fair share of injuries: a broken foot, black eyes and lots of bruises on my shins…I don’t wear skirts too often!
What’s been your footy career highlight? I played for Coventry City Ladies for two seasons and got promotion into the national league – but left because the travel and time commitment would have been too much – and am also first choice goalkeeper for the UK Police team. I’ve been captain of the West Midlands & Birmingham Athletic ladies team for almost three years.
Being fit must be important in your police response role? Definitely – I’ve been involved in a fair few foot chases in my six years with West Midlands Police. Though handily a phone robber literally ran into me a few days ago when we were called to a robbery report…he pelted round a corner and right into our arms. It was one of our easier arrests!
What is a Response Officer? We’re deployed mainly to 999 emergencies, going to the aid of people who’ve called for help or to crime scenes on the look-out for offenders. In the last few days we’ve attended several domestic incidents, dealt with shop-lifters, burglars and property fires. I was first on the scene to reports of a man who’d jumped from a moving train; he’d broken his ankle so I gave first aid, but not before using a barge to reach him as he’d landed on the ‘other’ side of a canal!
What do you enjoy most about the role? It’s really varied…an adrenaline rush. I’m hoping to start my ‘initial pursuit’ driving course soon which will allow me to track suspects in vehicles before handing over to specialist traffic officers and have just passed my ‘stinger’ training. But the best feeling is helping the public – last week I helped locate and return two top-of-the-range cars to a family who’d suffered a burglary and naturally they were very grateful. We get letters and emails from members of the public we’ve helped…but they don’t tend to make the headlines unfortunately.
The force has re-opened its recruitment process – what would you say to people considering applying? Go for it! There is huge range of jobs available and you can carve out a really fulfilling career. I have type 1 diabetes but that hasn’t been a barrier – with support from the forces’ doctors and specialists I’ve demonstrated it’s a condition I can control. So don’t let things like this deter you from applying.
Women’s football is enjoying a real surge in popularity isn’t it? I read somewhere that it’s the fastest growing sport in the country and updates on women’s football and transfer news are often featured on national sports bulletins. 90,000 fans packed into Wembley in 2012 for a GB Ladies game during the Olympics…I never thought I’d see the day a women’s game would sell out the national stadium! And we’ve got a much better structure now with two Women’s Super Leagues planned.
So will a female player ever be picking up £300k a week? I’m certainly not! I can’t see those types of wages flying around women’s teams; at the moment top women players are on around the same salaries as lower league male counterparts. But female tennis players campaigned successfully for equal pay…so you never know.
Sports Minister Helen Grant caused controversy recently by encouraging women to take up sports that still allow them to look feminine whilst participating – can you look feminine ‘between the sticks’? Hmmm…tricky I guess when you’re sweaty and covered in mud. But sports clothing manufacturers do make special women’s fit kits now rather than us having to play in men’s kits that look 10 sizes too big! It’s not about how you look though it’s what you enjoy and what you’re passionate about.
WMPeople Fact File:
Name: Antonietta (Netty) Manca
Role: South Birmingham response officer – and captain of WMP Ladies football team
Supports: Manchester United
Previous job: Gym instructor
WMP Ladies football team was formed in 2003 but three years ago teamed up with Birmingham Athletic Ladies to become Birmingham & WMP Ladies FC. The team is currently top of the West Midlands Premier League http://www.westmidland.co.uk and aims to secure promotion to the Midlands Combination League.
Interested in a career with West Midlands Police. Register your interest here: https://www.west-midlands.police.uk/join-the-force/