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Last Sunday we welcomed teams from Goldsmith’s, Imperial, SOAS and Brunel to take part in a tournament to raise money for Girls United FA, and to raise awareness for our campaign #FemaleIsFierce.
Girls United FA’s vision is for girls around the world to have equal access to sport and to provide them with skills and abilities that will broaden their opportunities to participate in education and in the economy.
The charity aims to achieve this by establishing football academies in low-income areas in South America, and providing the local community with the support they need to take over control of the academies to ensure that multiple generations can benefit from them.
The vision of Girls United FA resonated with members of our club as so many of us have boosted our CV and become more confident through being a women’s footballer and part of our club. However, many of us have also experienced the discrimination and inequality resulting from being a woman participating in a male-dominated sport.
This is what drove us to create the #FemaleIsFierce campaign to raise awareness for the offensive and sexist comments we still experience, from being described as ‘manly’ or ‘tomboys’ to being asked if we really know the offside rule.
So with the broad visions of both our own #FemaleIsFierce campaign and Girls United FA in their mission to promote equal opportunities for girls in sport, we decided to bring them both together and to host a tournament for teams in the local area.
The tournament got off to a chilly start with the snow only stopping two hours before the first matches, nonetheless the 50+ participants from the five clubs were keen and ready for an afternoon of football.
Things kicked off with a group stage with Holloway A, Imperial A and SOAS playing each other in Group 1, and Holloway B, Imperial B, Goldsmiths and Brunel playing each other in Group 2. Matches were 7 a-side and only 20 minutes long, so play was usually fast with some brilliant short pass play and many shots on goal.
Despite winning their last match against Brunel, Holloway B were knocked out as a result of the group stages and the tournament went to play-offs. With the winners of each group Holloway A and Imperial B going head to head for first place, second place in each group SOAS and Goldsmiths playing off for third place, and Brunel and Imperial A playing off for fifth place.
After the tense final matches that were well fought from all teams both the fifth place and the third place, play off matches ended in draws and as the rain set in more heavily they had to go to penalty shoot outs, with SOAS and Imperial A coming out as winners.
In the battle for the trophy, an early goal by Imperial B put Holloway A on the back foot. Despite Holloway stepping up their game, fighting for every ball and displaying some excellent shots, the Imperial B defence remained strong and a second goal just minutes from full time cemented Imperial B as the worthy winners of the tournament.
We somehow managed to cram everyone into a changing room and out of the wet and cold for the announcement of the results of the tournament which were as follows…
1st – Imperial B
2nd – Holloway A
3rd – SOAS
4th – Goldsmiths
5th – Imperial A
6th – Brunel
7th – Holloway B
Congratulations to Imperial B, and to top off the achievements, Romina Calatayud, a representative from Girls United FA, informed us that through the entry donation alone each team that had competed had raised enough to provide a girls’ team in Mexico with a kit to play in!
With overall the day raising £109 for Girls United FA, we were in a celebratory mood and there was only one thing left to do. We were happy to welcome the clubs to join us at our favourite pub - The Foresters Arms.
We would like to say a massive thank you to the teams from Goldsmiths, SOAS, Imperial and Brunel for coming and helping us support Girls United FA and #FemaleIsFierce.
We hope you all had as much fun as we did despite the freezing cold and rain! Thank you to Romina as well for promoting the event, coming down and telling us more about the amazing work by Girls United FA!
Thank you so much to Henry, Andy, Dom, Sam, Josh and Remy from Royal Holloway Men’s Football for voluntarily giving up their Sunday to stand in the rain and referee for us.
We really appreciate everything you guys did on the day and the support you show for women’s football. We have loved our clubs working together this year and continuing the “one team, one dream”.
Cheers to Ray, landlord of The Foresters Arms, for welcoming us into the pub regardless of how soaked we were!
Finally, I would like to thank our clubs committee for the effort you all showed which made the day a success! Special mention to Ellie and Chloe who without their endless admin and promotional work the tournament would not have been possible.
Registered charity no: 1141998
The Students’ Union, Royal Holloway
Egham, TW20 0EX