Women's World Cup: England's Toni Duggan on being a role model

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Name-calling was 'tough to take' but I'm glad I stuck with football - Duggan

England forward Toni Duggan says she embraces being in the spotlight as it gives younger players something to aspire to.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, the 27-year-old recalled growing up when women's football was rarely in the media.

With the sport's profile on the rise in a World Cup year, Duggan says players have a responsibility to make the most of opportunities.

"I'm trying to create a better pathway for the next generation," she said.

"I'm really thankful to the players who have gone before who have created it for me.

"A few years ago, we'd have been screaming out for sponsorship, interviews, brands coming on board, so any chance that I get I'll give it everything."

In March, Barclays bank became the Women's Super League's first title sponsor in a three-year deal understood to be worth more than £10m, while high-street retailer Boots signed a multi-million pound deal to sponsor the home nations and Republic of Ireland women's teams.

Every game of the World Cup, which runs from 7 June to 7 July in France, will be broadcast across BBC TV, radio and online platforms.

"I didn't have role models to look up to because there was no access to them," said Duggan, who played in Barcelona's 4-1 defeat by Lyon in the Champions League final on Saturday.

"It's important that players remember that. We've come a long way, but we've still got a long way to go so we need to give our time to promote the game and be role models - to make the next generation see us and want to become us."

Duggan has played for Everton and Manchester City, and was part of the England team that finished third in the 2015 World Cup in Canada, their best performance.

Duggan, who has been named in Phil Neville's squad for this summer's tournament, said: "We're ready for it.

"If it had happened in Canada I think it would have been a big shock to everyone.

"From experience and learning and being successful in the game, it's at a tipping point. If we are successful then I believe all our lives would change.

"That's what inspires us and motivates us and that's what we want."

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women's sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women's sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.

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