Words: Steve Wright
In her new column for The Guardian Suzy Wrack made a strong case for supporting women’s football and this is a topic that is increasingly relevant to Nottingham Forest. In his introductory letter to the fans new Chairman Nicholas Randall advised that the club would “seek to build links with the women’s game in Nottingham something which has incredibly not been done previously”. That’s not strictly true as under the ownership of Nigel Doughty the club actually helped to fund Nottingham Forest Ladies and actively supported them, but it certainly has been the case more recently.
Forest Ladies were formed in 1990 and have competed strongly and developed talent both with and without the support of their parent club thanks to the hard work of a voluntary team of grassroots football enthusiasts. As a new season of Women’s Premier League football approaches they have made an ambitious move to appoint Graham Abercrombie as manager and are setting ambitious targets for the development of the club. Now would be an opportune time for both the main club and its fans to get behind the ladies.
As Suzy Wrack explains, despite claims that the women’s game should live within its own means rather than asking for help from the wealthier men’s version the two sports do not operate on a level playing field and haven’t had the same chances to thrive. Indeed the male dominated Football Association actually banned women from playing the game in 1921 and only affiliated the Women’s FA (formed in 1969) in 1983, so reparations may well be due.
Irrespective of the history though, as football fans it seems totally appropriate that we should support opportunities for women and girls to both play the game and make a living from it and we can do that by actively turning up to watch games, putting our money on the turnstiles, or by playing a more passive supporting role by making funds available for the development of the women’s game and engaging with its progress at our own clubs. Afterall the women wear our badge with as much pride as the men and we all represent one city and one club.
As fans of Nottingham Forest we have rallied strongly in tough times with the formation and growth of Bandy & Shinty, Forza Garibaldi and the Supporters’ Trust and it would be great if as we head into what we hope will be much better circumstances we were able to reach out to our longstanding ladies club and offer the hand of friendship – a hand up rather than a hand out to coin a phrase. The women’s game is in a period of growth and Nottingham as a city with an innovative history in football should have a team in its vanguard. Hopefully over the coming seasons Forest Ladies, with the support of us all, will be that club.
You can find out more about ways to support Nottingham Forest Ladies at their website.
The Women's Euro 2017 tournament starts this Sunday with all games shown live on All4 and England and Scotland matches on Channel 4
Lewes FC have become the first professional or semi-professional club in the world to pay its female players the same as their male counterparts.
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