October Blog – Women’s football goes professional… finally!

We have some good news to share from the world of women’s sport. From this season, all 11 teams in the FA Women’s Super League (WSL) will be fully professional. This is a great step forward for women’s sport, and a another shuffle closer to gender equality in the world. We are always keen to celebrate these kind of improvements and we are really happy that “footballer” is now a realistic career ambition for young women, as well as young men.

While of course this is the first step on a long road, the salaries are nowhere near those of male players with the notable exception of Lewes FC, it needs to start somewhere. Our hope is that, with public support, all WSL teams will be soon be self-sufficient and so retain ties with men’s teams because they want to, not because they are reliant on them for funding. As we continue down this road, the change in tide should be felt not only by the players on the pitch but, more importantly, also by every young woman with a dream of working in sport, as a host of other jobs get opened up as a result of a professional women’s game. Football is a massive industry, Monster.com suggest that there are over 100 career paths available, and while of course there are already women working in some of those we would like to see this step open up an easier path for women into all of them.

This is some years away and there are still many societal hurdles to overcome. We believe anyone can do anything they want and, while changing, it is still sadly true that young women are often pushed down certain stereotypical paths. This is where TCF steps in. We pride ourselves on gender equality, and never shy away from upsetting the status quo, evidenced by us creating the first female Visually Impaired cricket team in the UK, and always advancing our women and girls work. This year to date we have an exact 50/50 gender split in our work and in May we were able to share our sport for social change methodology of working with marginalised girls and young women, with a global audience when every female member of staff attended the 7th IWG World Conference on Women and Sport in Gaborone, Botswana, spurring further change throughout the world.

What we aim to do with our women and girls programmes is provide a range of skills that challenge and inspire participants to think positively about their future through weekly fitness, health and well-being sessions and mentoring. Our engagement is long-term and has a proven pathway to success. There is progression though our programmes, meaning that we work with young women for months, and sometimes years, to give them the best chance to create their own positive change. Every member of staff working on our women and girls programmes is a TCF graduate and two have come through multiple TCF programmes. In addition, 85% of Generation STORM graduates are still in sustained work or are pursuing education opportunities created through their personal development plans, 12 months after being involved in the programme.  This success has also been recognised externally, Dance 4 Change and Street Elite are already award-winning programmes, and Generation STORM has been twice shortlisted for awards this year. The second of these, the prestigious Youth Work award at the Children and Young People Now Awards, is yet to be announced so fingers crossed for the team on 21st November.

More power to the professionals in the WSL, and long may they provide inspiration for young women of the future to achieve their limitless goals, we will be there supporting them to reach the top!

To find out more about our women and girls programmes please follow this link.