ON March 8, we celebrated International Women’s Day.

Louise from Gregory Surveyors together with Oxford United in the Community invited a number of women from local business and sport to enjoy some golf and cake to mark the day.

Oxford United’s Her Game Too ambassador and Oxford United Supporters’ Panel representative, Grace Bailey, was invited to join in the event and to talk about the work of Her Game Too.

Grace explained the background to Her Game Too, which was set up in May 2021 in order to tackle sexism in football. It is run by volunteers from partner clubs which cover most of the top 92 clubs, in addition to several grassroots clubs.

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More and more girls and women are playing football, and there are increasing numbers of female supporters of both men’s and women’s football.

Grace described some of the particular issues that female football supporters face on social media: “You have to be clear about the facts when you state your opinion about what happened in the game as some people are quick to dismiss your views as invalid or wrong simply because you are a woman.

“Education is important. It isn’t right for girls to be told they can’t play football just because they are girls, as was reported from one of the local girls’ teams just last week.”

Grace is encouraged by Oxford United in the Community’s provision of girl-only soccer camps, which enable girls to explore football in a safe environment.

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Kath Faulkner, one of the coaches at Oxford United Women, highlighted the impact that increasing exposure to women’s football is having, notably with the Lionesses and WSL matches more widely broadcast. It is important for girls to see women playing elite sport and know that it is something they can work towards.

Oxford United have dedicated both men’s and women’s matches to the Her Game Too campaign this season. This focuses on eliminating some of the issues female supporters face and on celebrating the women’s game.

Grace hopes to see the club build on the good work already done to extend provision for women throughout the season, for example by routinely stocking more merchandise in women’s sizes in the club shop.

Kerrie Bates, of Oxford United in the Community, provided information about period poverty and challenged those present to consider how it would feel for a young female fan attending a match with her dad, brother or uncle, as is often the case, to suddenly need sanitary products.

It is a very real situation which can deter young women in particular from attending matches. Therefore as part of the International Women’s Day event, a silent auction was held with items generously donated by Oxford United and by the Bicester Hotel Golf & Spa, which hosted the event. The funds raised will be used to ensure ongoing provision of sanitary products, free of charge, at the Kassam Stadium next season.

This was an important networking event. Many of the women who attended do not watch football. Grace hopes that they have been inspired to come along and enjoy the ups and downs of supporting Oxford United, whether at the men’s or women’s matches.