November 2023, by Lucy aka LEaF’s CEO and football fanatic
I am absolutely thrilled to announce that LEaF Translations is the official shirt sponsor of a brand new women’s football team in the York area. Bishopthorpe White Rose Women’s team was formed in November 2023 to compete in the brand-new North Riding FA Women’s Recreational League.
Read on to found out how this unique and slightly unexpected partnership came about…
I have always loved football.
As a recent LinkedIn post of mine began: “Here’s a not-so-secret secret about me – I love football.”
I have loved it ever since I saw Liverpool smash Leeds United (the local-ish team most of my family members supported) at Elland Road back in the early 90s, back when football was a “man’s game” and most definitely “not for girls”.
Through all the years when any woman watching a football match would be mocked for “not getting the offside rule” or “mansplained” about the strength of different teams and players, tactics, rules and the rest (actually, who am I kidding? That still happens frequently now.)
As a child, I was desperate to play for a team like my older brothers but I quickly learnt it wasn’t an option. I only ever saw men and boys playing football. There weren’t girls playing at the playing fields, there weren’t any girls playing in the matches my brothers played in, there weren’t any women playing on TV.
I (kind of) made peace with the reality of the situation and adopted hockey instead (the most football-like sport open to girls in the 90s). My desire to play football firmly locked away and buried. Playing hockey and watching men’s football on the TV would have to do.
Fast forward 30 years…
…and I found myself a mother of two football-playing children (one girl, one boy), regularly standing on the sidelines, cheering them on. Girls football now a thing – girls teams now growing in size. Although women’s football very much still deemed an inferior sport and still met with derision from large parts of society.
And then the Lionesses won the Euros and England went women’s football crazy.
I watched the final in our local social club, surrounded by women and girls but also men, some of whom had almost certainly considered women’s football to be somehow lesser than men’s just weeks or months previously.
Looking around the room, it hit me that finally, finally, women’s football had become accepted by broader society. The Lionesses had done the seemingly impossible – they had made it okay for women to love football.
Inspired by their triumph, I decided to write a post on a Facebook group for York mums to see if there were any other women out there who had spent their whole lives wanting to play football but had never had an opportunity.
I was blown away by the response.
Since that post back in August 2022, a group of women from the York area have been meeting each week to play 5-a-side football and I have absolutely loved every minute of it. Some of us had barely played previously, while others had played semi-professionally before having kids. So our skill level may vary, but we are all united by our love for footie.
From playing week-in, week-out, I have met so many other football-loving women and seen the women’s game in York go from strength to strength. In addition to the 11-a-side teams that existed before, there is now a weekly women’s 5-a-side league at We Play Football and at least one other group of women meeting each week for a casual kickabout in the city.
Empowered by this network of women footballers, when I saw a post about a new women’s recreational league that the North Riding FA was hoping to launch, I had to find out more. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was organising and entering a team into the new league. Our local club, Bishopthorpe White Rose, were kind enough to affiliate us as part of their club and so our team became Bishopthorpe White Rose’s first ever women’s team – a proud moment for me and for the club.
The FA and Bishopthorpe White Rose have been fantastic in supporting us with funding for kit and balls but I wanted to do something in return and so LEaF Translations has become the official shirt sponsor of Bishopthorpe White Rose Women’s team.
Seeing the kit – my first ever team kit – was a very proud moment and donning it a week later to represent my team and my club in the very first North Riding FA Women’s Recreational League was even better.
The new women’s league gets underway
The first round of fixtures between the seven teams involved took place at our home ground, White Rose Park. Each team played six 7-a-side games to kick-off the league. There are four more league meetings planned for the season, which will each follow a similar format of six, 15-minute games for all of the teams.
The inaugural meeting was a massive success. Seeing all those women playing football and having the best time was amazing and it was absolutely brilliant to be a part of my first ever official FA fixtures. A real dream come true.
For more information about Bishopthorpe White Rose Football Club, please click here.
Follow the North Riding FA on Facebook to find information about the Women’s Recreational League.
And, if you want to follow the progress of our wonderful Bishopthorpe White Rose Women’s team over the course of the season, make sure you follow LEaF Translations on LinkedIn or sign up to our newsletter.