28 April 2022


Almost 150 Women in Football members gathered in London last Tuesday evening for an invaluable networking session and some moving words from an all-star panel which included the ground-breaking former England manager Hope Powell CBE.

Those who made it along were full of praise for the event, with social media posts afterwards describing a "wonderful" experience and "an absolute pleasure to be among so many inspirational and talented women".

The theme of the discussion was 'Female Allyship: The women behind great women' and the event was hosted by talkSPORT at their impressive HQ in London's NewsUK building.

Before the panel took their places, Women in Football CEO Yvonne Harrison welcomed the audience and gave a preview of WIF's new #SignHerUp campaign, inviting members to help the organisation grow by encouraging their friends and colleagues to join up.

TalkSPORT's Natalie Sawyer chaired the panel, which lined up as follows:

  • Jo Tongue CEO, Tongue Tied Management and Registered Intermediary
  • Lola Ogunbote Women's Business Lead, Burnley FC; Executive Director, Goals for Girls
  • Hope Powell CBE Manager, Brighton & Hove Albion WFC
  • Kelly Simmons OBE Women’s Professional Game Director, the FA

Hope gave an overview of the progress being made across the game, commenting: "The amount of women working in football now wasn't possible 30 years ago" and adding that "more and more women have full-time roles".

She spoke positively of the set-up at Brighton, where "a one club philosophy" means the women's and men's teams "come together in the same building, which makes us very visible". The club – which became a corporate member of Women in Football last year – has invested significantly in its women's team.



Kelly agreed: "You walk in to Brighton and there's something about the culture, the ambition," she said, adding that "Brighton are a fantastic example with a clear strategy and investment in facilities… but each club is at a very different stage in terms of 'one club' culture. They're all on very different journeys but making fantastic progress."

Off the pitch, too, the panel agreed that the game has become more balanced in recent years. Asked by Natalie about the situation for women in football media, Jo said: "It's a completely different landscape from 15 years ago. You don't turn on the TV or radio without hearing a female voice in there. Now it's the norm – but we still have to fight. You still have to know more than men."

Jo also touched on the 'see it to be it' principle of women's progress in the game, saying "it's important to be visible" and referring to "safety in numbers".



The audience at the event included a number of delegates from Women in Football's latest Leadership Course sessions, which had taken place earlier in the day just up the road at Charlton Athletic FC.

Lola referred to the course, which she took last November, in one of her answers, admitting: "I was sceptical – I didn't know how it would help me… but I found it quite life-changing! It was phenomenal, a great course, we had great instructors… it was really good for me."

She went on to describe her career journey from the legal and financial sectors into sport: "I knew deep down I wanted to be in football." Lola's advice to others aiming for a career in the game included to "seek out a mentor" and "don't compromise on your values".

The theme of being true to yourself was echoed as the panel session drew to a close by Hope, who said: "I will never compromise myself or who I am... never, never, never."

Women in Football networking events are open to members of the organisation. To apply for places at future events, sign up to join for free, and WIF's regular e-newsletters will give you all the information you need to come along.

If you're already a member, please do reach out to a friend or a colleague who hasn't yet joined Women in Football and #SignHerUp.

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