Moving the Goalposts

Words by Emma Townley 

Hands up...

...if you know what’s happening in women’s football right now. I’ve got my hand in the air but not many others have.

Last night I went along to the Moving the Goalposts event at RichMix in Shoreditch and had a bloody brilliant time (I hope you all read this article as I missed Spurs in the Champions League for this *crying emoji face). Thanks for having me ladies it was a great event.

A third of all football fans in the UK are women, so why are women being excluded from the public narrative? Why are we encouraged to be competitors with each other based on how we look rather than as athletes? How can the camaraderie experienced in a sports team positively affect the way women interact as well as their own self confidence? How do we get men involved in the discussion?

Women’s football is seen as a secondary sport. The fact that I - a woman who plays and loves football - refers to it as ‘women’s football’ is fucked. Things need to change.

 

 Goaldiggers FC

Goaldiggers FC

 

The women’s game used to be huge. Immediately after the first world war, a match between the Dick, Kerr's Ladies FC, a works factory team from Preston, drew a crowd of 53,000 on Boxing Day in 1920 to watch their game against St Helen's Ladies at Everton's Goodison Park stadium – a women's attendance record that still stands today. Dick, Kerr's Ladies also played the first ever women's international matches that year against a team from France, always with large crowds. But it all changed and the FA banned women’s football shortly after that. Assuming they were threatened by the popularity affecting the men’s game…

So women’s football has been on the back foot since then.

Time to level the fucking playingfield in my opinion.

But whose responsibility is it to bring this change? The FA? From listening the the ladies talk last night, the FA are being wholly unsupportive. Big brands? All the big sports brands seems to be peeping over the precipice but waiting to see which of their competitors will take the first hit (whoever does it will be a landslide after that). The women’s teams? Well sure, but they are shouting the odds day in day out and not getting big results from governing bodies. In my opinion, the FA have a lot to answer for but essentially, it falls to all of us. Fight the good fight if you will. More women’s teams, more events like last night, more films, more women supporting other women. Support your local ladies football team. Hackney Laces and Goaldiggers are a good place to start. Or get at us and we’ll try and point you in the right direction.

(Spurs score at this point and I have to hold in a scream. 1-0 Spurs.)

The biggest thing that hit me from the short film and panel discussion last night was that Arsenal ladies (who are absolutely smashing it btw) - aren’t allowed to play at Highbury. Like, WTF Arsenal?

And also the fact that even when our Lionesses won bronze, the actual England Twitter account put out the following tweet:

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 13.11.33.png

 

The heavy implication that even whilst these women are at the top of their game and running rings around the men - at their core they are still mothers, daughters and wives. It’s all a bit ‘get back in the kitchen’ for me to stomach to be honest.

NO. Just no.

The pay gap was touched upon last night too. Wayne Rooney earns £300k a week. Jordan Nobbs earns £65k A YEAR. How that pay gap even exists is mind boggling. So there is still a fair way to go in achieving equality in the beautiful game.

Ro Jackson (SLOWE) was running the panel last night and alongside her was Fleur Cousens and Mahalia John from Goaldiggers F.C and Katee Hui who founded Hackney laces. I was humbled by what these gals do for the beautiful game - from grass roots up. For all ages and abilities. They are creating, running and inspiring others with their inclusive teams and it really touched a nerve, we need so much more of it. I/We at TFG are going to start digging in much more over the coming months. There is a real need for more women’s team sports. More than that, there is a hunger for it.

 

(checks Spurs score, 1-1. Deflated a bit. Oh well)

Let’s talk sex. Women’s sport only sells if it is sexualised by the media - female footballers aren’t judged on merit and that needs to change. I could go on but I’m going to let the MAD SKILLS of Laura Bassett and Ellen White do the talking:

 

Or this absolutely world class free kick from Jordan Nobbs? It’s up there with the best I’ve ever seen.

 

Any comebacks there lads? Any comments about kitchens or being mothers? No? GOOD.

Happy International Women’s Day Ladies Day

Links to check out:

GoalDiggers: https://www.instagram.com/goaldiggers_fc/

SLOWE: http://www.slowe.club/

Hackney Laces: http://www.hackneylaces.co.uk/

(Final score 2-1 to Juve. Fuck sake Spurs. Still love you though. COYS!)

 

AMY DRUCQUER