Checking in with the Haffners

Just over a year ago, a Tweet by a proud mother about her seven-year-old goalkeeping daughter went viral and led to Impetus joining up with SELK Grassroots to supply the then seven-year-old Lexi Haffner with the goalkeeping gloves she dearly wanted. Ben Gilby checks in with Lexi’s father Martin to find out how the youngster’s goalkeeping is progressing (20/12/22).

Above: Lexi Haffner with a trophy after another successful match in goal. Photo: Martin Haffner

It started off as just a normal day on 27th September 2021 when Julie Haffner put out a tweet on social media about her seven-year-old daughter Lexi who was two months into her goalkeeping career in a boy’s team loving every minute and proving with her ability that those boys who commented “Ahh! We’re playing against a girl!” would find out just what a girl can do in goal.

Almost 11,500 “likes”, over 420 re-tweets, and 289 comments later, the Twitter world was celebrating the joy that young Lexi gets from playing in goal every week. Dad Martin told us the story behind the tweet.

“At our match that day, we had one of the children’s parents requesting to take some action photos of the game. My wife decided to put a post-up with a picture of Lexi as she does get some stick playing for a boys’ team especially as she is a goalkeeper.

“I don’t think the boys mean anything by it, I just think they find it strange that they are playing against a girl. Therefore, Lexi’s mum just wanted to put a post on Twitter so men’s Championship side West Bromwich Albion (WBA)’s goalkeeper Sam Johnstone could see it as well as the WBA fans as she has loads on Twitter. We did not expect it to go viral, to be honest, she was just hoping she got a ‘like’ from Sam!

Above: A proud Lexi under the badge of her beloved West Bromwich Albion. Photo: Martin Haffner.

“It was very overwhelming with the kind responses Lexi was getting. Of course, you will always get jealousy and hate, but that is the whole influence of social media platforms.

Lexi, along with her father, is a huge fan of West Bromwich Albion, and the youngster is increasingly inspired by the Midlands’ tier three women’s team and is a regular at their games. “Lexi was mascot at a few WBA Woman’s games including the very first one played at The Hawthorns (the men’s team’s 26,500 capacity stadium) where they created history.”

Unsurprisingly, the young goalkeeper drew further inspiration from this summer’s European Championships, and it should be no surprise who Lexi’s favorite Lioness was: “She is a massive Mary Earps fan!” Martin revealed.

With all those inspirational players for Lexi at both club and country level, it was fantastic to hear that Lexi’s goalkeeping career is going from strength to strength.

“She has joined a girls’ football team and plays both girls’ and boys’ football currently. The first session she went to for Kewford Eagles Under nine girls, the coach wanted to sign her straight away which was amazing, they normally take their time to decide or give the child a few weeks to get used to playing with the team. Since she has started at the girls team, she has played eight games, kept three clean sheets, made two assists and scored two goals.

“She just wants to keep progressing and hopefully get signed, she would love to play for the Albion (WBA). However, the main thing is she is enjoying it and is having some great performances, making some great saves, and getting complimented by the opposition regularly. She surprises a lot of people because of her size.”

Above: Lexi Haffner wearing the goalkeeping gloves that Impetus and SELK Grassroots joined forces to buy her last year. Photo: Martin Haffner.

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