On Monday the 7th March, Surrey FA held a Q&A and networking event for all those involved in the Women’s game, in celebration of International Women’s Day.
The event was for all those involved in women and girls’ football in Surrey. Players, coaches, referees, welfare officers and others attended to celebrate the positive impact all those involved in the game are having.
The evening consisted of two panels, which discussed breaking the bias in both the grassroots game and the professional, as well what the future looks like after the Women’s Euros this summer.
The first panel consisted of; Nicola Brown, from Epsom and Ewell FC Women’s Rec, Pei Li Kew, a Surrey referee, and Rox Bennett, a Community Sports Manager from Palace for Life Foundation. They each discussed breaking the bias in the grassroots game.
Pei Li Kew touched on female refereeing, the perception of women in football and the changes which could be made:
“It’s not that the boys are saying you’re a girl and so can’t play, it’s more a surprise thing. It’s that the perception is that it’s not a viable life option to play football as a girl, so it was tough growing up. However, with more women involved, we are inspiring others to get involved and it grows, and you get more voices at the table and they carry more weight, to push for more change.”
There was also valuable discussion about the importance of early intervention. Rox Bennett stated the importance of visiting schools to inspire future volunteers, players, coaches, and referees:
“Early intervention of going into schools and having a positive impact needed for girls to continue playing. To show that if you want to play at a high level there is an opportunity for you, if you want to play rec, walking football, want to play for England, if you are given that opportunity it can happen. If you want to play elite, if you don’t want to play elite, there is something for you. But that early intervention is key.”
The inspirational evening continued as the second panel, hosted by our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion officer, Eve Roberts, discussed Biases in the professional game. This panel consisted of Jorja Fox, a professional player for Chelsea FC and Charlton Athletic, Kat Browne, the Director of Ladies Football at Dorking Wanderers, and Emma Clarke, the FA National Youth Council Chair.
Talking about her career from Manager at Dorking Wanderers to the Director of Ladies Football at the club, Kat Browne discussed the importance of women taking higher roles within football to break the unconscious bias:
“I wouldn’t have taken some of the steps I have taken if there wasn’t someone else doing it before, or if I hadn’t of had the support from strong male allies who were helping my confidence and through the challenges I have faced. It is important to have conversations so that people don’t make assumptions of the role I am there to do, and it is important that the more women are in those roles it will make it the norm.”
The evening was rounded off by a networking session, which allowed attendees to meet other like-minded people, who were also involved in the women’s game in some sort of capacity, as well as meet the panellists to discuss their journeys in football and discuss the future of the game.
Sophie Hollis from Inspire Girls Football attended the evening and had the following to say:
“Great event last night. Was terrific to see so much diversity in the room. I thought it would be filled with women! It’s great to see girls & women’s football getting a much wider audience and attraction”
We hope that those that attended also felt inspired to continue the hard work and support they provide to women involved in the game, or the female game as a whole.
To find out more about women and girls’ football in Surrey please following the link below:
Women & Girls