By Gemma Bell
So I was walking through Sincil Bank on my way to the Carlisle game, I started to soak up the atmosphere and suddenly I became very aware of a great female presence. I could see mothers and children, boyfriends and girlfriends, daughters, groups of women and all I thought was WOW!
I have been all over the country to games, I have been to cup finals, league games, non-league games and internationals but I cannot recall seeing such a high ratio of female support. I sat in the ground that day and looked around. The ladies were cheering and singing. They were engrossed in the passion and the buzz that live football creates. So many little girls were wearing the red and white of the "Cowley Army". Imagine my shock at half time when I found myself in a queue for the ladies toilets! Not only that but the whole queue was talking about player ratings and who was performing! I am so used to being in the minority it was absolutely refreshing.
When L.I.S.A first started I conducted a survey via Survey Monkey. It covered fan responses from Non-league up to the Premiership and no less than 73% felt that their club would benefit from having a female fan support network. Despite this, when I went on to look at participation I found only 11% of the group actually played the game! So why the huge dip if female attendance is on the up? Why isn’t participation following the trend? Back in March the FA released details of its development plan for females in football. Its aim is to double participation by 2020. Details of this is plan can be found here:
What I wanted to know was what did key people at the club think? Had they noticed the increase? And if that increase was solely club related had they noticed an increase in other areas? First, I spoke with David Fox, newly appointed to lead the development centre. Dave has a wealth of experience in countries around the world. He too has noticed the increase in female spectators however this hasn’t yet reflected in the development centre itself. The Development Centre now offers under 7 to under 12 girls development. More information on this can be sought by contacting Dave at: email@example.com
Dave has a keen passion to progress female participation and we eagerly await his plans to progress female opportunities at the club. Secondly I spoke with the man himself, Danny Cowley. Following the Luton game I was able to discuss his perceptions, Danny too, like myself, is keen to get more females into the game.
“In terms of kids and females, if you looked at other clubs and on a percentage scale we’d be much higher” Danny said. “It’s great we have such a diverse supporter base”.
Danny went on to say “We definitely need a women’s team and female development teams right the way through the ages”.
Sending that message he also confirmed that he encourages his own daughter who has just turned eight to play. “She has just turned eight but could play up a year”, he beamed with pride. Danny describes himself as a big advocate for females in football and so I look forward to the club bringing this ethos to life.