Dozens of fans and invited guests from a wide range of football organisations attended a special ‘Women in Football’ event on Monday evening hosted by Brentford Football Club. In the lead up to this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) which takes place tomorrow, Friday 8 March, Brentford FC hosted the event to celebrate the increasing role and involvement of women in football over recent years and to look ahead to future progress. This event provided a platform to discuss women in football generally as well as how we can increase the number of female fans coming to support Brentford FC, as part of our ongoing strategy to make the Club as welcoming and inclusive to all as possible.
The evening started with a discussion, hosted by TalkSPORT presenter and Brentford fan Natalie Sawyer, that gave those in attendance a chance to hear from a panel of distinguished guests. Debbie Jevans CBE, Interim Chair of the EFL, Chris Paouros, member of the FA’s Inclusion Board, Danielle Carter, forward for Arsenal Women and England, and Jane Purdon, CEO of Women in Football, all shared their stories about how they got involved in the game. They also outlined what steps they believe clubs can take to attract more women to attend matches and their aspirations for the future.
The second half of the evening involved an interactive session, and discussion, with those in the room answering questions on why they believe women may choose not to attend matches, despite being interested in football, and what more can be done to encourage them to attend matches both at Griffin Park and as we look ahead to our new stadium. The audience discussed why they go to games, whether they have ever had any negative experiences and also the positive reactions and experiences at Brentford and elsewhere.
Monique Choudhuri, one of the Club’s Directors, represented Brentford FC during the event, taking note of the many suggestions made to address any barriers that may exist preventing more women from attending matches. Monique said: “This was a very interesting and successful event. We invited fans and guests to assess how we can attract more women to football and everyone was encouraged to share their ideas freely. We received many good ideas, and we will work with these, as we can, over the coming months.
“As some fans may have seen, there were also a few suggestions that were more unconventional and some that were contrary to our overriding quest for inclusion. These won’t be taken forward, however, we thank everyone that came, including our panel, for their time and valuable input.
“As a Club we are continually assessing how we can attract more people to Brentford matches and if we can be even more representative of the local community in terms of gender, race and sexuality as part of this, then so much the better. A fan at our recent diversity and inclusion focus group last week told us the Club appears to be quite ‘white and male’ and that we should try to change that perception. Others have told us there is a need to make ourselves more welcoming to women, LGBT+ fans and supporters from ethnic communities. We have listened and are attempting to do just that, whilst still ensuring that our long-time supporters from whatever background continue to enjoy coming to matches and being part of our valued Brentford Community, as they have always done.
“When we move in to our new stadium next year, we will need to attract more fans as we have a lot more seats. These fans will be of all races, genders, religions and sexual orientations, and some will have particular support requirements to help them make the most of their matchday experience. We want to do whatever we can to make all of our fans feel genuinely welcome and looked after at Brentford. Monday’s event focused on what we could do to attract more women to matches and it is just one of several events we plan to run of this nature that will look at all angles of inclusion.”