Chairman's Column 05.12.2023
The exponential rise in the popularity of women's football worldwide is probably the most important and single biggest change to the game I have seen in all my years of watching and covering the game.
And not just on the pitch where top quality players are finally getting the recognition they deserve but in areas of the game like coaching and in the media where women's voices and their footballing acumen are at long last being taken seriously.
I have worked with just about all of the top football pundits in the world at the very highest level and can categorically state that the current Chelsea, and soon to be USA national coach, Emma Hayes is right up there with the very best of them. That is way we have, by way of a tribute to what she has achieved for the women’s game, her portrait by top grafitti artist, David Nash on the walls at our club.
The ground-breaking appointment at Union Berlin of Marie-Louise Eta as the first assistant coach in the 60-year history of the Bundesliga, as well as in the other top divisions of Europe’s “big five” football leagues, is as welcome as it is overdue.
Better late than never, although the reality is there is still a very long way to o especially when it comes to addressing the massive financial inequality that exists between men and women's football at all levels of the game.
Here at Biggleswade United I have never had any doubts that the women's game should be treated with the same respect as that afforded to their male counterparts. An even playing surface is as important metaphorically as it is literally.
That is why we were one of the first clubs at our level to put an end to the iniquitous situation that thought it was just that our women's senior sides should pay subs while our men's senior teams played for free.
It is why we are always looking for women of all ages to join us, take their coaching badges and actively get involved in coaching all of our sides.
And we are always on the lookout for new players to join and compete for places in either the Red and the Blue women's sides that we have at the club.
So far, so good although we still have a long way to go.
The Reds, which have been under massive reconstruction, are starting to show their potential even though inconsistency has been an issue due to key injuries.
However, a great performance after a 200 miles round trip to Fakenham and a hard fought draw where only the woodwork prevented them from taking all three points was as welcome as it was heart-warming.
A shortage of players meant we had to play the game with just 11 and special mention to Sofia Fisher Diaz who won player of the match in her Reds debut after having stepped up from the Blues; a tribute to the quality of coaching within the club and just rewards for her efforts over the last few months.
Meanwhile our Blue side drew 1-1 in a top of the table clash with Flitwick and currently lead the table by 1 point, though Flitwick and Garston each have a game in hand.
Harriet Smith is having an incredible comeback season after time away from football and it was her strong run that allowed Ellie Mae to score our goal. The bad news is that both Harriet and Grace Leslie had to exit early due to injuries and we wish both of them a speedy recovery.
We remain as committed as we are ambitious for the women's section at the club with the aim of both teams each rising two levels above where they are at the moment within five years.
Fundamental to achieving this is that we concentrate on building collaboration across the group.
Despite the fact that both sides are fielded as two separate entities and invariably both kick off at the same time on Sundays, it is imperative that the Reds and Blues evolve into one united group by the end of the season.
The Blues serve as a development side, readying players for the Reds’ standards. And the Reds rely heavily on the Blues to provide depth and fill gaps. Adopting this cohesive “Red and Blue” mindset remains a work in progress.
Both colours fly the Biggleswade United flag and do so proudly. We need to ensure there is no divide, no 'them and us' for the simple reason that together we are stronger.
Onwards and upwards