Call For Equality in Football - Because Girls Like Football Too

By Cheryl Rickman
on July 06, 2015

Last night the USA Women's Football (Soccer) Team won the FIFA Women's World Cup after beating Japan 5-2.They were INCREDIBLE, scoring their first two goals within a few minutes and 4 goals by half time (including a cracking strike from the half way line).

Why are they so awesome? As well as being amazing athletes in their own right, it's thanks in part to the high profile of women's football in the States where it is as big as the men's game. As little girls their dreams to become footballers are fostered and encouraged and supported. The female soccer players are superstars - household names; they have huge sponsorship deals, just like the men. Football in America is just not seen as a man's game. This enables the players to focus 100 per cent on the football and on becoming the best team in the world.

Meanwhile, England's amazing Lionesses came a pride-inducing third in the world taking home bronze medals. They made history as the best senior result in a World Cup since 1966, the first team to beat Germany in 21 matches and they even beat the hosts. England's Lionesses are now ranked 3rd in the world and 1st in Europe and they've utterly inspired a nation. But did you know, Claire Rafferty, one of their top players, still has a job as a financial analyst for Deutsche Bank? Just imagine how well they could do in the future if they had the same support and opportunities (and pay) as their male counterparts or as their female counterparts in the States? 

However, regardless of the level of support and mainstream media coverage (which we are campaigning to improve), the English team impressed and captured the hearts of a nation with their skill level, strength and resilience. But also, what was notable across ALL teams in this tournament was the level of kinship and camaraderie. The teams supported each other through thick and thin, encouraging and praising and protecting each other throughout. Consequently, it was not just their immense talent which has inspired a nation and new generation of #Lionesses, it was their attitude and courage and kindness.

The USA deserved to win the tournament. They were incredible and so entertaining to watch, as were all of the matches. But, as we celebrate with pride the achievements of these awe-inspiring athletes, we should note the hurdles overcome by the England Women's Football team in their journey to third place in the World Cup (which is perfectly summarised by this newspaper advert - also pictured below)

I'm so grateful that my 7 year old was able to see women playing football - the game she LOVES to play - at this level. She already knew football wasn't 'for boys' but now she REALLY knows. Our women's team did better in their world cup effort than the men's team has done in five decades! I'm going to take her along to her first ever live football match on 1st August and I'm pleased to say it's a women's match - and not just any match... My daughter and I will be travelling up to Wembley Stadium to watch Chelsea Ladies play Notts County in the FA Women's Cup Final

We want to thank every single Women's Football team player for inspiring her and the future generation of top notch sportswomen and call for more mainstream coverage for Women's Football (c'mon BBC, buy the rights from BT). We also want this incredible show of sisterhood to inspire women and girls in general to take note of the kinship and camaraderie that was on display - where women support and encourage and uplift other women rather than knocking them down.

Let's use this tournament as a platform from which to grow and #LiveOurGoals because #WeCanPlay!

The good news? FIFA are doubling it's development funds for women's football and encouraging more girls to play football via their #LiveYourGoals campaign and the FA have a  #WeCanPlay campaign which aims to encourage more girls into the game. Now we just need mainstream media to cover women's football more readily and more widely; for people to attend women's super league matches (see below for fixtures/dates) and for more to be invested into the women's game - they have, thanks to our Lionesses - proved once and for all that they are as deserving as the men to gain mainstream media coverage, investment and support.

If you have a budding #Lioness you'll be pleased to know, we're in the design process for our own #Lioness-inspired football top and will be taking pre-orders very soon. To stay informed about when these will be available, click here to sign up to our private mailing list.

Every player in the tournament is absolutely living our very own manifesto which includes the words:

"Be proud to be you. Be bold.Stand tall....

Play to your strengths. Rise to challenges...

Dream big. Then practice...

Nurture your dreams like seeds. Climb back up after you fall down."

Find out more about our manifesto, motto and mission here.

Order an A3 poster of the Climbing Trees manifesto here.

The TIME IS NOW for Women's Football in the UK to gain as broad exposure, investment and support as the man's game. Thank you #Lionesses for leading the way!

The next FA Women’s Super League matches, where you can see our Lionesses play, are:

Reading Women v Durham Women, 11 July at 6PM

Chelsea Ladies v Bristol Academy, 12 July at 2PM

Manchester City Women v Birmingham City Ladies, 12 July at 2PM

Sunderland AFC Women v Notts County Ladies, 12 July at 2PM

Arsenal Ladies v Liverpool Ladies, 12 July at 6PM

Tickets to all FA WSL matches can be bought HERE

Unsure where your nearest FA WSL club is? Find out HERE

 

Because Girls Like Football Too - Campaign To Invest More in Promotion and Get The Woman's Football Show on BBC1

By Cheryl Rickman
on June 29, 2015

I'm excited. Today, with my 7 year old football-fanatic daughter, I watched the Lionesses - the England Women's Football Team - win their Quarter Final WORLD CUP match against hosts, Canada. They have made it through to the semi-final and their strength, skill, precision and resilience has bowled me over. I feel a sense of pride. Simultaneously I want to see MORE of these amazing athletes, but they just don't get as much coverage on our TV screens. Which takes me back...

... 31 years ago, nine-year-old me wrote a letter to The Daily Mail letters page. They printed it too! (My parents drove all the way to my Guide camp to show me). It was entitled 'More Girls On The Box' and in it I asked why there wasn't more women's sport shown on the telly? I loved netball and football but that was never ever shown. Today, whilst FIFA invests about $900 million a year in football projects around the world, only 15 percent is committed to women's programs. Whilst it's encouraging that this has grown since 2004 when it stood at 5 per cent, this meagre and inequal percentage seems crazy to me. Male football hardly needs any promotion - countless people go to matches, buy the kits, watch it on TV, support the sport... but female footie needs all the promotion and support it can get. Thankfully, three decades later, we are making some progress, but the promotioal budget is so small that most people (and future Lionesses) don't know about this. 

Although the Women's Super League doesn't yet have it's own BBC1 Match of The Day or frequent coverage on the existing BBC MOTD programme, The Women's Football Show is televised on BBC2. Furthermore, with interest growing, more member associations are investing into women's football and there are a growing number of programmes for women, including  the FA's own leadership course and other initiatives and BT covers the Women's Super League online. Plus there's some great resources for female footie fans, such as SheKicks.net. To keep the ball in the air, the momentum growing, it's important to sustain the interest in the female game.

Since 1983 when I wrote to The Daily Mail, we've made progress, as former England Manager, Hope Powell wrote in The Guardian, "In England women’s football is already the number one female participation team sport, with more women and girls playing football today than netball and hockey. Barriers to getting young girls involved aren’t anything like they used to be. We now have role models, players can earn enough to play as a full-time job. The obstacles to playing and earning a living have been eradicated. Personal sponsorship and team sponsorship have changed dramatically. Agents have come into the game." Indeed the The FA’s Women’s Super League is now broadcast on BT too and the Woman's Football Show on BBC3 shows  great progress. If that could escalate to a mainstream channel, like Match of The Day and BBC1 coverage, we'd be saying 'back of the net' - a victory for women's football for sure!

I (along with most people) am so proud of our Lionesses for showing with such incredible #badassery how entertaining and talented the female game is and shining a spotlight on women's soccer for all to see. The BBC reported that 1.6m tuned in to watch the quarter-final match between England vs Canada. This tournament is a major stepping stone towards bringing the female game to more fans around the world and it has captured the imagination of so many already.

My 7 year old daughter, co-founder of Climbing Trees LOVES football and watched the game with me. (She especially loves Kirby, Williams & Bronze). She plays before school, during school breaks and after school. I am thrilled to be taking her to her first ever match - to see the Women's FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium in August (get your tickets here) And it pleases me immensely to see that FIFA are encouraging girls to get into the game with their #WeCanPlay campaign, whilst the World Cup message is #LiveYourGoals.

I hope that we can now keep the momentum going. Talking with my daughter today we wondered why, just as my nine-year-old-self had done, women's football didn't feature more frequently on the box. We did a little digging and discovered that it is there, we just didn't know about it. And therein lies the issue. The budget to promote the sport is insufficient. The BBC has committed to providing extensive coverage of the 2015 Women's Super League season across all platforms, including television, radio and online.


This is great news, but we hope that more effort and budget it put in to making people AWARE of this, not only for our Lionesses but for our FUTURE LIONESSES - for girls who like football and play football. #HearUsRoar.... So we've started the WOT campaign

With this campaign it is our goal to raise awareness about Women's Football on TV by asking that more budget can be devoted to promoting it  and do as much as we can to take Women's Football MAINSTREAM (i.e get The Woman's Football Show on BBC1!)

You can sign the petition and link to the campaign here and also to this page with the hashtags #HearUsRoar #WOT

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