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Chelsea’s Emma Hayes ‘on real honour’ after being made an OBE

Chelsea Women’s manager Emma Hayes with her OBE (Victoria Jones/PA)
Chelsea Women’s manager Emma Hayes with her OBE (Victoria Jones/PA)

Chelsea Women’s football manager Emma Hayes has described becoming an OBE as a “real honour” and an “unbelievable experience”.

Hayes was appointed by the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace as the sun shone on the capital on Friday morning.

London-born Hayes, 45, has been the manager of Chelsea FC Women since 2012, and said of the OBE: “It’s a real honour for myself, for my family, for my football club. I’ve had an unbelievable experience.”

She and William spoke about the upcoming Women’s Euro 2022, which is to be hosted by England next month.

“We talked about the growth of the women’s game and now hopefully he will be able to get down and see the girls this summer. We know he’s a keen sports fan,” she said.

Emma Hayes with the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace
Emma Hayes with the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Asked about England’s chances in the tournament, she said: “I’m super excited for the players. I know the whole country is willing the team on to win the Euros and (they) certainly have an amazing chance.

“And they’ve got a great squad, a great manager, and everyone’s really optimistic.”

She continued: “I think, if I reflect on my 10 years at Chelsea, where the game was then and where it is now, we’re heading into a summer where we’ve got record-breaking attendances for women’s games.

“I think the broadcasting this summer will demonstrate that this will probably be the biggest women’s football event of all time. That just shows the growing interest in our game and one I’ve been delighted to be a part of.”

Meanwhile, Olympic freestyle BMX star Charlotte Worthington was made an MBE for services to the sport, and described the experience as “awesome, nothing like I’ve ever experienced before”.

Worthington won a gold medal at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics at the Cycling BMX Freestyle park final, where she became the first woman to land a 360-degree backflip during a competition.

She added: “It was National Olympics Day yesterday, I was looking through all the pictures and it just brings it all back, and you remember the journey and the people that got you there.

“And then to come here today, the day after the Olympics Day, it brings it all back, it makes me feel very proud. I get to share it with my dad as well.”

Paralympic skier Shona Brownlee, who also serves in the Royal Air Force, said she was “gobsmacked” when she found out she was to be made an MBE during a phone call from her group captain.

She got into the sport through the Battle Back programme, which aims to help injured and wounded service personnel in the UK with their recovery.

“This wasn’t ever in my career plan,” Brownlee said. “Just over the last year, everything’s taken off.”

She added: “It was really part of my rehab and then it just went from there. But now, I think it’s just part of achieving something, since my injury is quite a big thing and then just hopefully showing that injuries don’t need to limit you.

“I can hopefully inspire other people with other injuries to go and do things and think, ‘Life doesn’t need to end just because you’ve got an injury.’”