Courtney Sweetman-Kirk brought the curtain down on a decade-long professional football career this summer and admitted there was no shortage of emotion when she returned to the place it all began.

The 33-year-old spent her career racking up the goals everywhere she played, from her early days at Leicester City, via spells at both Liverpool and Everton, before finishing up at Sheffield United.

This summer, she decided the time was right to call it a day, and as part of a new role as an ambassador for Utilita, the striker returned to Wolsey House Primary School in Leicester, where she first kicked a football.

It was part of a project called Football Rebooted, a campaign where football boots are recycled to help with cost-of-living crisis, aid those unable to afford boots and make an impact from an environmental perspective.

Hillingdon Times:

And having got her first taste for the game that has shaped her career at the school, Sweetman-Kirk is eager to ensure that others can do the same.

“My family weren’t really massive football fans,” she said.

“Growing up in inner city Leicester, I think it’s important that everyone should have access to the game and it was something that I was fortunate to have. 

“I went back to my old primary school and I got to see how it (Football Rebooted) can impact the amount of girls and boys who didn’t have the money to buy boots or maybe the parents weren’t willing to buy them for one reason or another, particularly on the side of the girls. 

“It was unbelievable going back. It probably made me a lot more emotional than I had anticipated before I went. Seeing a lot of the same teachers that helped me when I was growing up, they gave me that access to football. 

“That’s not always the case but for me, growing up in the 90s, women’s football wasn’t really accessible, it wasn’t the norm. They saw that I had the talent and the passion and pushed me, doing everything in their power to help me to play. I appreciated that now probably more than I did at the time. They have a girls’ football team now as well as the boys. To make sure that demographic have access to boots is really important.”

Hillingdon Times:

Football Rebooted was born in May 2021 after findings from a Utilita-commisioned report and is based on community integration, encouraging any donations to be distributed in the local area.

As well as the admirable ambition of trying to improve access to the sport for young girls and boys, there is also an environmental side to the campaign.

Described as football’s biggest environmental movement, the mission statement for the project is to prevent one million pairs of football boots ending up on landfill.

Sweetman-Kirk added: “For me, it’s important that everyone has that access to football at whatever level that is, and boots are a big part of that. It’s really important and then you look at the other side of it, the environmental aspect, trying to rehome a million boots, that is what we are trying to do at Utilita, to keep those boots out of landfill. 

“I know from my time as a professional, you wear boots for a few games and get a new pair. It’s making sure that instead of going in the bin, those boots are being used correctly. There are a lots of ways we can do that and lots of people we have identified who are in need of the boots.”

Football Rebooted is football’s biggest environmental movement, preventing one million pairs of football boots ending up on landfill. Visit to find out more