As Karleigh Osbourne and his team took the applause from the thousand-strong crowd after the 7-2 victory on Sunday, we spoke to Club Directors Monique Choudhuri and Preeti Shetty about the game, what International Women’s Day means to them and what message they would send to the girls who were watching on from the sidelines.
Preeti said: “It was just fantastic. It's been so great to see all these people turn up - the record breaking crowd. The vibe is just brilliant that the team has performed exceptionally. They won 7-2 and I think it's just such a good example of a great day out and everyone coming out to support our team.”
Monique agreed: “It was a great atmosphere. I'm so pleased that so many people turned out to support the game. We've never really done anything like this before. Our women's team are starting to, slowly and quietly, progress - I suppose a bit like the men's team - very much under the radar.
“As a club, we put inclusivity at the heart of everything we do. And for us, that means supporting our women's team as much as we support our men's team, especially on a day like today around International Women's Day. I think it's showing our fans and our community that we have a brilliant women's team - they play great football and they work very, very hard.”
Monique continued, reflecting on the history of International Women Day: “I think a lot of people don't realise that International Women's Day has been going on for about 70 years. And it was first celebrated in Britain and in Poland, Germany, Italy and Spain.
“It's an opportunity for people around the world to come together to talk about women and their achievements and also help them to inspire others.”
International Women’s Day is also a time for men to step forward and support the women in their lives and workplaces. Monique explained: “I've always championed women in roles, but I've also been supported by male allies. I wouldn't be where I am without them. I think the thing that people sometimes miss about International Women's Day is that it is an opportunity for allies to work with women to help them aspire and advance and progress as well. We shouldn't forget that.”
For Preeti, celebrating success was also important on International Women’s Day. She said: “You know it's a funny one - we're always striving for equality and equity but it's still really important for us to have a day where we're recognising what women in our community, women in our business and our players have achieved, what they do and how we've come a long way. But, there's still a long way to go.
“So, I think having a day like International Women's Day is just a chance for all of us to make them feel special to shout about their successes, and really continue to fight for the equality that we know they deserve.”
The highlight for Preeti was seeing so many young girls attending the game. “It's been my favourite part of today," she added. "We've seen young girls here seeing role models. It's representation - they can be exactly like the women on the pitch and it gives them something to aspire to. And that's been beautiful to see.
“My message to all the girls is you can be whoever you want to be in whatever area you choose and Brentford will always have a place for you.”
Monique echoed Preeti’s words of inspiration: “I would say go for it. Football and rugby are the fastest growing women's sports in the country. There are lots of opportunities for girls to get involved.
“I think if you can dream it, do it. Whatever your background. So, if you are a young girl aspiring to be the next Ellen White or the next Emma Hayes or you feel like you are as good as Ivan Toney then just go for it because it showed today that football was the winner.”