Further announce sponsorship with Wroxham Women FC
To celebrate the start of the new football season and Further Digital Marketing’s new sponsorship of Wroxham Women’s FC, we talked to Manager Rebecca Burton and Vice Captain Kate Pasque about the Yachtswomen’s chances this season, the World Cup’s impact on the growth of the women’s game and how that raised profile can benefit youth and grassroots sports.
How did you get into football/sport?
When I was younger my main activities were actually swimming and dancing, I always loved football from a young age but I just didn’t have time to fit in playing for a club between my other commitments. I grew up with three older brothers and three older step brothers, all Norwich mad, so I think it was inevitable that football was going to be an important part of my life. I would play down the village park with my brothers and their friends every free moment I had – we’d be out of the house all day and evening until dark (only popping home for food!).
I remember there was one day I was playing football in the playground at middle school with all the boys and a girl coming up to me and saying she played for a local team, I must have been about 11 at the time and I haven’t looked back since! Football has taught me a lot of things in life, as well as forming friendships that’ll last a lifetime.
Tell us about your team, Wroxham Football Club, and its hopes for the new season
At the end of last season, Rebecca and the rest of the team made the decision to change clubs from Acle United Women to become a part of Wroxham FC for the upcoming season. Wroxham showed a passion in growing the female game in Norfolk, and this tied in perfectly with the aspirations we had as a group. In the last five years, Acle secured a promotion, won the Norfolk Women’s Cup, the Eastern Region League Cup and finished within the top three for three consecutive seasons. Considering our games are against the likes of Haringey Borough, Billericay Town and Cambridge City, we see this as a big achievement. The whole team that ended as Acle has moved over to Wroxham, and there’s a really good feeling within the squad about how far we can go with Wroxham FC behind us.
What are the challenges facing clubs playing at a regional level?
I think the biggest challenges are always finance and player commitment. At Step 5 you are travelling over two hours to away games and trying to push for twice weekly training, all the while asking players to pay. We’re looking for a certain level of ability along with a commitment to attendance, performance and development – and that’s sometimes hard to find when we’re expecting people to pay for the privilege. Our players do a lot to juggle full time careers as well as commit to training each week, we’re also then asking them to make sacrifices socially to compete to be in the squad.
It’s not for everyone; players give up that time and money to then not get 90 minutes, which is why player commitment can then be a challenge. Football is a sport where the money is so vastly different between genders – equal pay is not the argument I necessarily preach but the difference in financial expectation is huge. Local male footballers playing outside of the National League System are getting paid, whereas in our league and the league above us (Step 5 and 4), players are having to find sponsors to cover increasing costs each season.
Has the increased profile of the women’s football in the UK had an impact on lower leagues?
This is quite hard to gauge at the moment. There hasn’t been a massive change as of yet; sponsorship fees are still so important in lower league football to be able to compete at a decent level. It is obvious there are more women wanting to play football now though, which is of course improving the standard within the league.
The FA have Wildcats clubs across the country for girls between five and eleven, to get them involved in football for the first time. I think in five years’ time the results will really start showing from this, and the participation numbers and level of standard will really go up.
What is the most important thing for the continued growth of women’s sport in the UK?
Support and visibility. Everything over the summer for the Women’s World Cup was fantastic in this respect, and everybody saw the impact it had on the country getting behind the Lionesses.
Making things easily accessible and then backing it properly correlates with interest and enthusiasm, and then growth. The recently taken strides forward in this area are brilliant; so many professional clubs are promoting their women’s teams across different sports, and the media is showing and reporting on more female sports too. From the Lionesses, to Serena Williams, to England Netball, to the Telegraph’s ‘Women’s Sport’ coverage and most recently the female trio of Referees officiating the UEFA Super Cup between Liverpool and Chelsea – things are happening and it’s brilliant to see, but it needs to continue.
Wroxham Women played the first home game of their 2019/20 Eastern Region Premier Division campaign on Sunday 25th August, where they recorded a 3-0 victory against local rivals Wymondham Town at Trafford Park. They will also be hosting Kettering Town on 1st September in The FA Cup.