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FIFA pro Lisa Manley: "Hate makes me strive to become better"

We speak to Lisa Manley about meeting Christian Fuchs and her mission to encourage more women to try competitive FIFA.

Lisa Manley established her football career as part of Fulham's women’s team, although she’s now making waves as a competitive FIFA player for the 2020 season.  

After juggling playing FIFA and women’s football for Fulham, an injury forced Lisa to take a break from the real-life pitch. This has given time for her FIFA career to flourish, signing up to No Fuchs Given Academy (NFG) in December 2018 founded by Leicester City player Christian Fuchs. 

Lisa is now aiming for the top after qualifying for the ePremier League 2020, and plans to make the FIFA scene a more welcoming place for other female players.

So you were playing for the Fulham women’s team – what’s the plan there moving forward?  

I was playing in 2018 but I got injured and stopped in 2019. I hurt my back and my knee as well, so now I’m just playing for a local team to get back my fitness. I was having a break and hopefully I’ll be going back in 2020 with full fitness. 

We previously spoke to Reece Rusher about his juggle between the real and virtual pitch, do you think that's quite common now for many players?  

I think so because FIFA obviously is the best football game out there. A lot of people do the same thing because it’s like playing football in real life – it is kind of linked.  

When I was playing for Fulham I was doing gaming as well. Just obviously if you’ve got a match you can’t stay up all night to play FIFA, so you’ve got to balance it out between.

So how did you get involved more seriously with competitive FIFA?  

In a way it was sort of luck. At the time I didn’t think I was good enough. Most people when you play a game you don’t think you’re at the highest level, but at the time I actually wasn’t.  

I got approached because Christian Fuchs wanted to get more females into FIFA because there were none at the time. Since I’ve joined I think another person has been signed. At the time, I got asked on Twitter and it was something I wanted to do but I never thought I’d be good enough.  

When they offered me it I wasn’t getting many wins at all, but since joining I’ve gone up 10 wins in the Weekend League which is a massive improvement.  

Since Christian reached out, I’ve actually met like 40 girls who do play FIFA. We’re looking at getting a FIFA tournament together. I tweeted about it and I’ve been surprised myself by the amount of people who got back to me. A lot of them get a lot of wins but I just think it’s about getting the platform out there, and for EA to maybe host a tournament.

Is this female tournament in the pipeline? Or in the planning stages?

The tournament is in planning stages. Christian is going to be sponsoring it and putting £300 up for the winner and it will be across PlayStation and Xbox. We’ve not got a name yet but it was meant to be in October, but EA said they might get involved so it’s been delayed. We’re in talks with EA at the moment to promote or sponsor the tournament.  

A lot of people I’ve spoken to want to join. One of their boyfriends said he tried to get her to play in a tournament and she didn’t want to, but once he told her there was a female-only one, she thought “actually I could play this”. 

It’s a lot more competitive with men generally, a lot of them want to win all the time. I think everyone does [want to win] in general, but when you see everyone’s a man [in a tournament], women think “I’d rather not,” you know? 

How did you find joining the scene generally? Was the community welcoming?  

When I did sign there was a lot of haters on Twitter or in general saying, “how has this person been signed? They don’t get as many wins as the men.” For me when I get hate it makes me strive to become better. When I get there I can then say, “Hang on a minute, what were you saying before?” And I just prove to them. 

When people hate on you it makes you want to become better. It makes you want to put the hours in, it makes you want to prove yourself more to them which is what I’ve been doing recently in terms of qualifying for the ePremier League.

Is Christian Fuchs very involved with the training? Do you get to meet him a lot? 

I met him for the first time when I did an interview with him for CBBC a few weeks ago. He’s really helpful in terms of if you ever need something you can just message and he’ll reply. Obviously not straight away because he’s a footballer and hasn’t got that much time, but if you ever need anything he’s there for you.  

He’s very supportive. When we qualified for the FIFA eWorld Cup last year he was there watching and supporting. In general, he’s a very supportive person.

What do you make of FIFA 20 compared to FIFA 19? A positive step forward?  

I feel like it was a positive step. I feel like FIFA 19 was quite an unrealistic game in the sense it was just always crossing and unrealistic skill moves. You could just keep doing the same skill move and you couldn’t really defend it. Whereas this year, I think it’s more skill based.  

They just need to sort out the lag in FIFA 20. Every game is not the same; you’ve got dodgy connections, you can’t pass the ball properly. This year, if they can sort out the connection I think it’ll be a lot better because it’s more realistic and you can’t just cross all the time and score.  

What would you say to other women who play FIFA but are hesitant about going competitive?  

If they think they’re good enough, you should try and stream on Twitch or try and get themselves out there. Post a few montages on Twitter, join the tournament I’m doing, do YouTube videos, it’s just about getting the opportunity. In general, it’s about getting out there. 

FIFA’s ePremier League club playoffs start in February 2020, with the finals taking place on 27 March. You can check out Lisa Manley streaming on Twitch here