Interview With Chloe Rogers

17th April 2020

By George Brereton

“I am determined to be one of the first names on the team-sheet, I don’t see myself as anything other than that.”
Chloe Rogers

After almost two years of being on the sidelines after suffering her third serious knee injury, Chloe Rogers is ready to make her comeback for Cheltenham Town Ladies.

After signing for Cheltenham from rivals Brislington in 2018, she enjoyed a successful pre-season, before starring in an enthralling 7 – 4 victory against her former side in her first outing for The Robinesses. However, Rogers suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear, a lateral collateral ligament tear and a torn miniscus, in only her second appearance for The Robinesses against Maidenhead, her third serious knee injury suffered in her career.

Training felt really good, pre-season was brilliant, first few matches (and) friendlies were great and then we won our first league game so that was brilliant. I was feeling really positive.

“Then Maidenhead came, and the pitch wasn’t in the best condition, I don’t even think we should’ve been playing” she recalls.

“I went up to head the ball, and the person next to me just clipped me off balance slightly, and when I landed my foot got stuck and I twisted one way, with my knee twisting another.
I felt a tear straight away and I was screaming in agony. This was my third serious knee injury so I’m quite good at being able to recognise when something’s wrong.”

Abruptly ending her season, Rogers has gone on to miss nearly two years away from the beautiful game, something which she has cited as being ‘incredibly hard’, missing the escapism and camaraderie within the game.

“I think football and probably sports in general gives you an opportunity to work on yourself really and gives you a chance to get away from everything that’s going on for 90 minutes. It’s great to socialise with your teammates when you get on with them so well, it has been really hard for sure.”

Besides playing, Rogers is also a sports lecturer at Bristol City’s Robins Foundation, and the now 26-year-old concedes it has been extremely hard at times, saddened at being unable to participate in training activities.

“When you’re coaching girls to play football, it makes you miss it even more because you want to be able to show them a drill, but you’re unable to and you miss that a hell of a lot.
Two years is a very long time, it’s surprising now with isolation and the lockdown going on how many people saying it affects their mental health not being able to play but it’s only been a month. Whereas, for me it’s been two years, it has been a very difficult thing to go through!”

Despite the setback, Rogers feels having previous experience of knee injuries has helped her cope with the mental side of her injury, accrediting her close friends and family for helping her through it.

“Absolutely 1000 percent. I think actually being able to go through it and being able to get out of it once already, and then go through another knee operation and get out of it okay for a second time, you do
see an end goal and it does help you to think ‘okay I’ve done it before I can do it again’.
“I had some brilliant friends around me and my family are very supportive along with other loved ones being there, the whole journey I felt positive.”

She particularly accredits her family while out injured, citing them as ‘incredibly supportive and understanding’, feeling that without them she may not have been able to return to football.

“My mum actually came to every single physio appointment with me at the hospital and sat in the room, took notes and did everything possible really, to encourage me and just push me but in a good way.
They know when you need that push or when you do have that five minutes where you think ‘god I’m going to cry or this is crap why has it happened to me? ’ but your parents are always going to understand that. (Also) Financially they’ve definitely helped with private physio and things like that and being able to transport me everywhere, so I’d definitely be lost without my parents for sure.”

Alongside her parents, Rogers is also very close with her brother Jordan, who she describes as her ‘best friend’, and reveals training with his team, Peasedown Miners Welfare, has been incredibly beneficial in aiding her comeback to action.

“Men’s football is completely different to women’s football so that’s definitely helped. Growing up my brother was always my idol and I always wanted to just play alongside him. It was definitely good just to enjoy football again when I was training with my brother’s team in pre-season, just being able to get involved and get physically more prepared, it has definitely given me an upper hand.”

Chloe Rogers works with centre-back partner Cerys Dolloway. Image courtesy of Will Cheshire

After the anguish, torment and psychological pain during her rehabilitation, Rogers believes there needs to be more mental support to players within the National League, believing it is essential players have access to psychologists.

“I don’t think there’s any support to be honest. Katy (Jackson, physio at Cheltenham Town Ladies) is brilliant with us, she definitely checks (up on us) and is brilliant with that but I don’t really know anyone who would just come in and check on your mental health during an injury or any psychologist who’s involved with the team.

“I don’t know any club in our league or even the national league has access to a psychologist able to help you through difficult times.”

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to spread around the globe, Rogers and the rest of the Cheltenham Town Ladies squad having been keeping herself fit by holding remote training sessions, while the centre-back reveals she has is fortunate to have access to a homemade gym.

“We were given a document of different exercises to be doing over time and Abby Bevan who is a personal trainer holds a PT session on Zoom twice a week as well so that’s really good because then you’re obviously still getting a social side and your having a bit of fun with people, and that’s really good to be able to do that.
I’m quite lucky too as we’ve got a bit of a gym in our house, we’ve got a treadmill, cross trainer, bike and a weight room, so again, I’m quite lucky at my parents’ house that I have that.”

Ready to make her comeback this season, Rogers revealed her frustration after The Women’s National League decided to end the 2019/20 campaign, merely prolonging her absence from the game.

“It was really frustrating because I was meant to be playing in the Maidenhead game, which I thought was a bit ironic, but I couldn’t play that cause of work. Then the week after we were meant to be playing in the cup match and that was postponed so it did feel like ‘oh god, I have no luck with my comeback. What am I supposed to do?’

Despite her exasperation, she understands the Women’s National League’s decision to end the season early, acknowledging that player and fans’ health and safety must be paramount.

“We get quite a few people watching and obviously we’re players, so I understand the decision (to cancel the season). It’s frustrating, of course it is, but with the safety of everybody you do understand why. Especially with Sam (Morris, Rogers’ best friend and teammate at Cheltenham Town Ladies) in the NHS, and being a paramedic, you do hear everything that’s going on, and you do think actually this is the right decision. But you do wish okay could we have just postponed it like the EFL are doing or what the WSL is doing.”

Ahead of next season, Rogers is “aiming to keep physically and mentally fit”, while also endearingly revealing she is hoping to walk out with her new baby niece next year.

“I definitely want to be holding my new baby niece walking out for matches next year, who is being born next month so that’s a main goal.”

Rogers is determined to force her way back into Alex Cheal’s starting XI, despite the fierce competition from the likes of vice-captain Cerys Dolloway, Mai Butler and Sam Morris, as well as the likes of Sammy Hallsworth and Kirsten Rendall who featured in the role in the latter part of the season.

“I am determined to be one of the first names on the team-sheet, I don’t see myself as anything other than that really. I want to be the centre-back, I want to be the one that is fighting for their position and I want to do that until I am that starting player on the team-sheet.

She also believes Cheltenham are more than capable of securing promotion next season, feeling they are gradually improving every season.

“I think hopefully we can go on and fight for top two again and get promotion. We’ve improved each year and I do think a top two or three place it is definitely up for grabs next year. We’ll see where it goes but I definitely have high hopes for next season.”

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