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CELEBRATING FEMALE STUDENT STORIES ON NATIONAL GIRLS & WOMEN IN SPORTS DAY 2024

7 February 2024

CELEBRATING FEMALE STUDENT STORIES ON NATIONAL GIRLS & WOMEN IN SPORTS DAY 2024

To mark 50 years of National Girls & Women in Sports Day, Women in Football are celebrating the work of brilliant female students enrolled at the University Campus of Football Business (UCFB).

In November WIF had the pleasure of joining hundreds of UCFB students for their careers fair at the home of England Football, Wembley Stadium. A networking breakfast was followed by brilliant panel sessions provided by industry experts, an eye-opening stadium tour, and employer stands. The event was a jam-packed day for all students in attendance looking to break into the industry.

There’s no better time than National Girls & Women in Sports Day to share Celia’s and Ellie’s accounts from the day with the WIF community, so read on…

 

Story by Celia Huggett

For over 30 years, I've often found myself being the sole female presence in discussions about football. As someone involved in grassroots football as a coach, referee, supporter, and budding analyst, I've seldom had the chance to engage in professional conversations about the sport with fellow women. This motivated me to attend the Women in Football networking breakfast before the UCFB/GIS Graduate Careers Event at Wembley Stadium in November.

Entering the breakfast with a hint of nervousness, I was warmly greeted by WIF’s Sarah Collins. In just a few minutes, she made me feel at ease and convinced me to join the Women in Football network. Engaging with the members at the breakfast, I was struck by their friendliness and willingness to share their experiences of breaking down barriers and working in football in various capacities. The diversity and excellence of these unassuming yet pioneering women left a lasting impression on me, solidifying their role as inspiring role models for future generations.

The highlight of the event was the all-female ‘Running The Game’ panel, featuring Michelle Dorgan (Women in Football), Danetta Powell (then Birmingham City FC, now with Tottenham Hotspur FC), Sarah Collins (talkSPORT), and Remmie Williams (Tongue Tied Management). Their empowering message was clear: "You can make it in football." However, it wasn't delivered in a superficial and patronising Instagram-style "follow your dreams" manner. Instead, it carried substance and purpose, emphasising the importance of hard work, having a plan, putting oneself out there, listening, and continuous learning. Notably, they stressed the significance of male allies supporting women in the football industry, a perspective I had not fully considered before.

Post-panel, I had the privilege of hearing Luton Town CEO Gary Sweet discuss his club's journey to the Premier League, followed by a ‘Laws of the Game’ Q&A with Rudi Kidd (Grand Central Sports agency), Daniel Lowen (Level), Jordan Gardner (Twenty First Group), and Daniel Geey (Sheridans). A referee workshop with James Gallagher and Chris Foy from the PGMOL, addressing vital topics like VAR, recruitment and respect, and referee analysis, served as a poignant reminder of the indispensable role match officials play in the sport; after all, without them we wouldn’t have the game we love!

The event provided ample opportunities to network with industry experts, and I concluded the day by exploring employer stands from football clubs and the broader sports industry. They offered valuable information about work experience placements, temporary/seasonal work, internships, and paths into graduate schemes.

Leaving the event, I felt a strong sense of positivity and confidence. I am now more convinced than ever that with hard work and a supportive network there is a professional place for me in the football industry.

Get in touch with Celia: 40201@ucfb.ac.uk  

 

Story by Ellie Killick

On Wednesday 1 November, UCFB held a careers day which was opened with a breakfast hosted by Women in Football. This was a chance for fellow students and I to meet and network with people in the industry. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capitalise fully on the event due to the environment, but I did manage to meet an ex-UCFB student, Carolina, who recently graduated and was able tell me about her journey to where she is now working at the Leyton Orient Foundation.

The day’s schedule then consisted of multiple panels with the first all-female panel titled ‘Running The Game’ consisting of Michelle Dorgan, the Head of Marcomms at Women in Football; Danetta Powell, the then Birmingham City Academy Operations Manager; Sarah Collins, the talkSPORT executive producer; and Remmie Williams, a Tongue Tied Media agent. The panel was chaired by Jo Johnson and discussed how each of the panel members got into their roles while overcoming struggles such as imposter syndrome and not being taken seriously as a female working in a male-dominated industry.

Something I took away from the panel was that my journey to becoming a journalist isn’t going to be easy but when you make it, it is very rewarding. The panel also taught me that you are likely to go through multiple jobs before reaching your main target and to not give up.

I found Sarah Collins’ story particularly inspiring as she shared how she had to take a post graduate degree in sports broadcasting to be taken seriously in the sector. She then became the first and only female Head of Sport at the BBC in Manchester. She also set up her own academy and now works for talkSPORT, where she works with ex-players to teach them to be presenters, proving that hard work pays off.

The next panel was titled ‘Laws Of The Game’, which consisted of Daniel Geey, a partner at Sheridans and author; Jordan Gardner, an investment intelligence specialist working with Twenty First Group consulting; Daniel Lowen, a lawyer for Level; and Rudi Kidd, a football agent for Grand Central Sports. While law isn’t the area I am pursuing, I found it interesting to hear their perspective that the players have their own responsibility to become the best version of themselves, but it is also down to the clubs to educate them.

The final session was a talk by Luton Town CEO. Gary Sweet. I really enjoyed this talk and getting an insight on the newly promoted side. Gary is a Luton Town fan himself and spoke about the loyalty they have to the small town and they try to always align to the club's culture. Having only been promoted in May, this was the first time Gary had returned to Wembley since the momentous occasion, so it was quite a sentimental return for him. Gary spoke about the journey the club has been through with the last owners. They were rescued by the supporters' trust before being taken over by the current owner. He also spoke about the ‘Luton 2020' group, which was a plan put in place so fans knew it would take 12 years to rebuild the club.

Since 2008, the club has been on an upward journey making it from the fifth tier to now being in the Premier league.  While Luton weren’t favourites to be promoted, Gary credited the success of the club to their togetherness. The interview finished off with Gary talking about Luton Town’s new stadium and how much it cost them to make it Premier League standard. He also shared how Sky Sports are a big fan of the media facilities.

The day was finished with a fair which had multiple companies including Sky Sports, Limelight Creative, ISC, The Woodwork, and many others presenting their opportunities. Unfortunately, the opportunities for journalism were limited.

Overall, the day was very informative. It would have been great, however, to see some representation for the disabled community over the course of the day.

Connect with Ellie on LinkedIn 

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