Last week, supporters and staff gathered at Brentford Community Stadium for a Fans Forum which focused on women and girls’ experiences as Brentford FC fans.
The session was chaired by Sally Stephens, Fan and Community Relations Director, with Board Director and champion for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Monique Choudhuri, also supporting the group. A number of fans joined the meeting remotely via BlueJeans by Verizon, the Club’s Official Virtual Meetings and Events Partner. Newly elected Bees United Board Members, Colleen Wong and Sharon Wright, and the BIAS Board Member, Sarah Todd, attended the session together with Brentford’s #HerGameToo Ambassador, Ali Mullaley.
Sally Stephens said: “What was really encouraging for us was the breadth of fans around the table on the night. Some had followed the club for many years while for others this was their first year as Season Ticket Holders. One fan even had 45 years of experience following The Bees. But what they all had in common was a passion for Brentford and a real desire to make the matchday experience as enjoyable as possible for female fans.
“It was clear that our new stadium has made a huge difference in terms of the improvement of facilities. As always, though, the thing that makes a stadium special is the people – our fellow Bees fans, our stewards and our staff.
“We heard some wonderful stories from those there on the night about meeting new friends, about supportive male allies and about friendly stewards and other staff who really make a difference.
“But we also discussed instances where fans felt intimidated, were offended by discriminatory language and anxious about misogynistic attitudes. These are issues we must face head on, with the support of our fans.
“Operational matters around ticketing, experiences at away games and sanctioning processes were also covered. Overall, it was an insightful, productive evening and we will be working hard to address the key issues raised.”
The session provided an opportunity to recognise a number of recent Club developments including the pledge to support Her Game Too, the provision of free sanitary products at the stadium and the recent record-breaking crowd at the Brentford FC women’s match ahead of International Women’s Day. At the meeting, it was also announced that the Club is backing the Mayor of London’s new ‘Have a Word’ campaign which speaks directly to men and boys about how they can intervene and act as male allies to tackle violence against women and girls.
Brentford fan Natasha Joslin was in attendance and commented on the meeting: “It was a great event and a brilliant opportunity to talk freely about, firstly how much we all love Brentford FC but also about some of the challenges that can occur being a female supporter. Often when banter isn't really banter - which is perfectly portrayed in the recent #HaveAWord campaign developed by Ogilvy for the Mayor of London.
“It feels good to be part of a club that actively listens to their fans and are always looking to be more inclusive so that everyone can enjoy watching football.”
We plan to hold another Fans Forum meeting focusing on women and girls’ experience and involvement at Brentford FC at the end of the season. If you would like to get involved, then please get in touch with us via email@example.com.