Sidcotian Opinions | Equality in Sport

Written by Esme D., Year 7 Student

I spend most of my Saturdays going to watch the Bristol City men’s team at Ashton Gate where I am a season ticket holder. I love doing this as it means I get to spend quality time with my family but also enjoy watching the game. However, it has started to come to my attention that there are huge differences in the amount of people who go to watch men’s football vs women’s!

For many years men’s football has had a larger fan base, but women’s football should have a similar fanbase. Many of the current Lionesses found they had trouble playing football after the age of 10 because there were not enough girls teams. This meant that during the time when men’s football was being played in big stadiums, women’s teams were only just starting to fill full squads.

I bet back in the day some girls were made fun of because they wanted to play football. I know society is changing now but it is still not perfect. It is an understatement to say what a difference the Lionesses have made when they won the Euros in 2022. They inspired a young generation of girls to play football. One of my favourite quotes to inspire people is from Mary Earps, English Goalkeeper, who said;  “Quitters never win, winners never quit”. This means that no matter how hard you try, never give up because you can always succeed. If you stop you won’t make it to where you want to be anyway.

Back to the fanbase, Sunday 1 October was the first day of the WSL season (Women’s Super League). This day was amazing! There were records broken. At the Emirates, where Arsenal played Liverpool, there were over 50,000 supporters there. For women’s football that is a huge milestone. In comparison, when Bristol City played Arsenal ladies at Ashton Gate recently, there were 12,000 supporters there in total. Compared to the men’s game, there are on average around 21,000 people every home game. As you can see there is a very large difference in these figures. This is because women’s football has never been as popular as men’s, but the Lioness effect has made such a difference.

I have been lucky enough to go and watch the Lionesses play. I have also recently been to the Emirates to watch Arsenal ladies play Aston Villa ladies. I have also got a few more games booked in and I am so excited.

You might be surprised to know that between 1921 and 1970 the Football Association instituted a ban for women’s football on the grounds used by it’s member clubs. To say the least this is extremely unacceptable to be cut off from a sport you love because of your gender.

This isn’t only about football. As you may know rugby is mainly thought of as a male sport and netball, female, but there are women’s rugby teams and men’s netball teams, however due to gender bias these sports aren’t as popular. Gender equality in sport is something I strongly believe in; everyone should be able to do what they want to.

Another aspect of sport that still isn’t perfect is that some LGBTQ+ athletes and players still struggle to come out for fear of not being accepted. Jake Daniels is England’s only openly gay footballer. Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema, who both play for Arsenal, are in a relationship. Society is slowly getting better and more players are starting to come out. It's only right that everyone should feel comfortable to be who they are.

This article isn’t just about the rise of women’s football (which is amazing), it is also about equality, one of our Sidcot Quaker values, and everyone in the world being accepted for who they are. I recently captained our Girls U12 Football Team for a game against Winterstoke Hundred Academy. I feel very lucky to be a part of the Girls Team, and to have one in the first place. Thank you Sidcot.