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Next WatG event – Doncaster Rovers v Gillingham

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Meeting Point: Mumbler Meet-Up point in the East Stand Concourse (Family Enclosure) at Keepmoat Stadium from 1.30pm (or alternatively, for ladies wishing to meet in Doncaster town centre and get the bus together, they can meet at Flip Out Trampolining Park in the Frenchgate Centre)

Time:  1.30pm for family fun, Kick off at 3pm

Cost of Ticket: 

Family enclosure tickets to cost £10 for Ladies and £2 for children (when signing up to Donny’s Squad – which is free to join).

Ticket includes family activities, programme and team sheet

Hospitality option £25+VAT Ladies, £15+VAT Children. This includes a 1 course meal, a glass of bubbly or orange juice on arrival, a car parking pass, programme and team sheet.

How to apply  Call Kellie Whitehead on 01302 764668 or email kellie.whitehead@clubdoncaster.co.uk

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Recruitment

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Once you’ve decided to host a Women at the Game event, you need to think about how you get people there. Recruiting people to attend, and raising awareness of your event, can feel like a really difficult task, so we’ve pulled together some top tips that will hopefully provide some suggestions of where to begin.

Easy wins?

Start with the low hanging fruit by considering what you already have and whether there are any links that you can use to appeal to a wider audience.  AFC Wimbledon ran a feature in their match day programme on Women at the Game and interviewed a wide selection of women who already come to matches, or are involved in the match day experience (stewards, programme sellers etc.). This was to encourage existing fans to suggest the event to sisters, mothers, friends, partners, daughters etc.  Hitchin Town get a number of wives of regular fans attending their events.

Does your club have a women’s or girl’s team? Several clubs, including Huddersfield Town and Hitchin Town, have used their Women at the Game event to raise the profile of the men’s game, with the followers of the women’s teams, and vice versa.   

You should think about liaising with supporters trusts, local fan pages and the club itself to support on social media, either by posting themselves or retweeting/ sharing your original post.

Getting the message out there…

There are three main methods of publicising your event, electronically, posters and flyers and by local media. You may well use a combination of all of them!

Social Media

An obvious but effective way of raising awareness in your local area, make sure that you are posting about the event on the social media channels of as many people as possible.

Suggested post:

[INSERT CLUB] is hosting a @womenatthegame event at the match vs [CLUB] on [DATE]. Women at the Game events are designed to help more women go to football matches in a supportive, all-female environment. For more information or to attend yourself, please email [CONTACT].

In addition to fan and club sites, you can even look out for local interest groups on Facebook and post about the event there.

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Partners

In the course of planning your Women at the Game event, you will hopefully be working with a number of businesses and people who will have their own networks that you can tap into.

Does the venue where you’re hosting your event have social media channels? If so, ask if they’ll promote the event on there. You can even put up flyers if they’re happy for you to do so, and if they’re really kind they might even speak to customers who come in about the event.

If you are a supporter’s trust or other group, and are liaising with the club directly, ask them whether they have a network of contacts they can use to help support you. If you are a club yourself, think about the partners you work with day to day including local businesses, patrons, and potentially even senior staff members or players who can promote the event using their own channels.

Half the task is raising awareness with the right people so the more people you have talking about the event, the better!

Posters and Flyers

Many of the lower league clubs that have held events to date, have made use of posters to publicise their events. These can be displayed throughout the community, e.g. community boards in supermarkets, libraries, work, school or leisure centre notice boards etc. We can provide the Women at the Game logo for you to incorporate in your artwork.

Local Media

Women at the Game have previously been covered everywhere from the Huddersfield Examiner to Sky Sports and The Guardian. In fact, you’ll often find that local media are looking for stories related to the area’s football club, and a local interest story like a Women at the Game event should be something they want to write about.

Have a look on the publication’s website and see if you can find any journalists who are writing about sport. Then see if you can find them on social media and drop them a line, or call the switchboard of the publication (usually not too hard to find after a quick google) and ask to speak to a member of the sports team on editorial. Just make sure you’re really clear about what the story is you want them to write.

Make sure to get an email address so you can share more detailed information. They’ll usually need you to share,

  • A brief summary of what Women at the Game is and why you’ve decided to host an event
  • The date and location of the event
  • The cost of tickets and how women can apply

We’re always happy to offer comment for any stories and if you can get the club to comment too, even better!

Then there is the radio…….when Banbury United held an event in 2017, they were invited to be interviewed on Radio Oxford, so you could contact your local radio stations (using the above method) to spread the word.

Expanding your horizons

As well as women who might be expected to have an interest in sport, consider other groups catering for women in your area, or other potential contacts.

If the club has any famous fans who can support through their social media channels, tweet them or send them an email (if you can find an address!) Your local MP or councillors may also be able to tweet, post, or directly talk to their constituents about the upcoming event. They may know of constituents who would benefit from the social interaction of going to a match.

If you have the time, it can be really valuable to approach local organisations directly. Think about if there are any local women’s groups, mosques, churches or running clubs that you think may have members who are interested in attending. If so, you can usually find an email address from their website or Facebook, or you could pop down and speak to the members during a meeting.  

Are there junior football clubs in the area? Mums spend many hours watching their children play and even getting directly involved in running or coaching junior clubs. Some may jump at the chance of taking their children to a league match or coming along with friends. 

Hopefully the above tips have given you some inspiration and help in promoting your events and encouraging women to attend. If you have any others that you have found useful please feel free to share those with us. You can direct message us on our Twitter page or post some tips on the Women at the Game Facebook page.

If this has inspired you to organise your own Women at the Game event or if you have any questions, drop us a line at womenatthegame@gmail.com 

 

Finding a venue

casual-diversity-female-1206059So you have decided that you are going to organise an event and after a scan of the WatG Toolkit, you realise that you need to pick a meeting point – so where should you choose?

In an ideal world, there would be a large, friendly cafe, with disabled access, just outside the entrance to the family enclosure of your club. It never gets busy on a match day and offers the most delicious scones in the Northern hemisphere. Problem solved.

Back in the real world, this venue most probably doesn’t exist, so you might have to get creative when finding the ‘perfect’ meeting space for your group.

This article attempts to give some food for thought when choosing your meet up venue.

Forearmed is forewarned

There are several basic questions to ask before you begin your venue search. Key questions to ask should be:

  • How many women will be attending?
  • Who will be attending?
  • When do you want them to join you (at the meeting point or at the ground)?
  • If there is nowhere close to the ground, how are you going to get there?
  • Are there any people within the group whose requirements will need to be considered e.g. religious groups or the elderly?
  • Are there any accessibility issues to be considered?
  • Is your event open to children?

When you invite attendees, ask them to register their interest with you and collect useful information to help you to prepare for the event and travel.

There is often no perfect answer to choosing a meeting place, you are not likely to satisfy all the people all the time and so often the selection of venue is a compromise, but the more you know about your attendees, the better prepared you can be.

Non-negotiable

The reason for meeting up before going to the match is for the group to get to know each other, meet up in a relaxed and friendly environment and for the organisers to be able to know who and how many people they have to guide.

The key tenet of a Women at the Game event is to take women to a football match in a supportive environment. For many women in attendance, this may well be their first ever game, and so a venue which is packed to the brim with loud football fans (however well-meaning) is often going to be too daunting for a get together.

The meeting venue will, in most cases, be the first face to face contact between you and the women coming to the match.  Irrespective of where it is, the organisers / guides need to be easily identifiable and approachable.  You need to be able to hold a conversation without shouting to be heard and be able to sit everyone together. The availability of tea and cake is a bonus!

Location, location, location

This is key to making your job, as event organiser, easier.  Wherever you meet, after a suitable time of bonding, you will need to get to the ground. In the case of premiership matches, that could be you and 60,000 other people!!

It is likely that the choice of venue will in part be dictated by the size of the crowds at your football club. If there are large crowds, then the local facilities are likely to be busy and getting the owner to allocate you some space for your group might be difficult. For non-league matches, crowding around the ground isn’t an issue and so a tea room within walking distance of the ground is often a good option.

If you do need to meet away from the stadium, and take public transport to the match, make sure you have enough volunteers to guide small groups of women to a designated meeting point outside the stadium. Trying to get 25 women onto the same tram, along with all the other fans is not an easy task (herding cats comes to mind), but if you only have a few women to look after, it is much easier. If you are going to use public transport to get to the ground, think about how you will get tickets. At the first Manchester City event, the party split up, when women with tickets got on the first tram, whilst others were still queuing for tickets.

To beer or not to beer

The official guidance in the WatG toolkit suggests that you should avoid meeting in a pub if possible.  There are several reasons for this. If you meet in a pub, you may deter some women from attending. This could be on religious grounds, difficulty in bringing children into the pub, or just a reluctance to walk into a pub on their own.  There is a practical issue as well, pubs close to the ground are likely to be meeting points for regular supporters, and so will be crowded and this will make it more difficult for your women to find you.

A location which offers alcohol (including the football club’s function room) could deter some women.

The presence of a beer festival at the ground on the same day as a Women at the Game event was considered to be a barrier preventing some Muslim women attending a recent AFC Wimbledon friendly.

On the other hand, many women are comfortable with meeting in a pub – it works for Manchester City, who meet in a city centre pub for a drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) and pizza, and then take the tram to the ground.

So you need to know your audience, but try to keep the venue as neutral as possible.

Communicate

Make sure all attendees know who their key contact is, so they can get in touch with any worries or questions ahead of the day.

If you are concerned that a group of people, such as Muslim women or mums for example, might be put off by the venue chosen, then open dialogue with them beforehand to ask if they would have any issues. Feel free to consult with local groups ahead of time who are more often than not happy to help answer any questions you might have.

Top tips

  • Ask for help! Your club, supporters trust or even regular fans, might have the perfect venue in mind if you just ask them
  • If the only available venues are pubs, see if they have a private room which can be booked, and put a Women at the Game volunteer at the door to escort women to the group if needed.
  • A function room or hospitality suite at the ground would be ideal for a meeting, particularly if the start time of your get together is timed to ensure women get to the ground before the big crowds arrive. This will generally need support from the Club or might require some payment. You might want to get sponsorship / support from a local business to help to cover any costs or consider talking to regular holders of hospitality boxes and see if they would like to donate their box for a match.
  • Communication is key, the venue chosen might not be perfect but as long as you are open about the reasons for choosing it, and are happy to answer any questions people have, you are unlikely to run into problems

For more information, or for help organising a Women at the Game event, please email womenatthegame@gmail.com

Jacqui Forster

We are sad to confirm that Jacqui Forster, the founder of Women at the Game, has died.

What follows is a small, personal tribute to her.

When I was asked if I could help with Jacqui’s plan to encourage more women to football, I thought it was a great idea but unsure whether it would take off.

It was Jacqui’s drive and determination that ensured it did.

I’d been aware of her work in the supporters’ trust movement for years, but we spoke for the first time at the end of 2016 as we got Women at the Game up and running. She had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in February 2015, and although friends had raised some money for her, she wanted to use it to do something to help others.

That became Women at the Game.

She was nervous at first about the media interest in her story and the project, but she became very adept at appearances on the TV, on radio and in the written press; and had neverending suggestions of how we could make Women at the Game even bigger and better.

We officially launched in Manchester in May 2017. By the time I got back to my home in London the next day, Jacqui had sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers to thank me, when it was I who should have been thanking her – for all her work, for her dedication, and for her friendship.

I shall miss her.

Carrie Dunn (Women at the Game)

Response to incidents reported at Stevenage

The steering group of Women at the Game were shocked to read the details of the letter from the Mariners’ Trust to Stevenage FC, particularly with regard to the searches of female fans entering the ground.

WatG believe that everyone should be welcome at football, not humiliated or embarrassed in any way, and will continue to work towards that end.

Important – launch event update

We at Women at the Game are devastated by the events of last night at Manchester’s Arena.

We are currently liaising with people with regard to our event on Thursday and will post here as soon as we can confirm what is possible.

We have been contacted by Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham’s office and have made contact with the National Football Museum but it is too early at the moment to confirm anything.

We are sure everyone will understand that we will let you know as soon as possible.

Book now for WatG launch event!

You are cordially invited to attend the official launch for Women at the Game, to be held at the National Football Museum, Manchester, on Thursday 25th May, from 6.15pm.

Attendance is free – just register via Eventbrite!

Special guests include Andy Burnham and WatG founder Jacqui Forster as well as other representatives from sports clubs and organisations around the country.

At our launch party, you can:

  • hear about why we exist and what we do,
  • hear from some of our supporters,
  • meet other women involved in sport and network together
  • meet groups who have already held Women at the Game events – and perhaps find out how you could hold your own event.

Register now to avoid disappointment!

We look forward to seeing you then!