This Summer’s Festival of Football

The Festival of Football is a non-profit month-long festival of events dedicated to celebrating and increasing participation in professional and grassroots football for women and non-binary people.

With the FIFA Women’s World Cup at the centre of its raising profile, this summer offers a crucial opportunity to alter the perception of the women’s game, which is still too often underestimated by traditional assumptions and mainstream representations. By publicly screening every fixture of the World Cup in a number of London venues, top international football will be showcased and given the intensified audience that it deserves.

Surrounding the promotion of professional women’s football, a carefully curated series of public events will serve as a spotlight and exploration into women’s and non-binary people’s football from grassroots to professional.

We are so excited to attend a range of sporting events, panel discussions, creative showcases, comedy, film screenings and panel discussions, the Festival is dedicated to providing space to celebrate the victories, honour the struggles and tell the stories of women and non-binary people in the beautiful game.

While we cheer on footballers at the top of their game competing in France, and showcase London teams of all ages that have been at the forefront of the thriving grassroots movement, the Festival is committed to bringing people and communities together to share our love for football and our commitment to wider social change.

There are too many events going on to list them all but some of my personal highlights include

World Cup Screenings
 | Throughout the tournament
“Our vision is to create an exciting and inspiring atmosphere, open for all genders to generate excitement and provide a space to showcase top international women’s football.”

Womxn and Football – Levelling the Playing Field | June 23rd | Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen

In recent years, the popularity of women’s football has grown incredible amounts. More than 45,000 people watched the 2018 FA Cup Final live at Wembley – an increase of over 10,000 on the previous year, the FA is working to double women’s participation by 2020, and female pundits are fast becoming the norm. Yet there are still significant inequalities throughout the game. Women rarely feature in footballing boardrooms. Female coaches and match officials are few and far between. Women of colour are represented even less. In the years since Eni Aluko helped inspire important conversations about race and discrimination, the Rainbow Laces campaign encouraged discussions of sexuality and diversity, and reactions to Alex Scott’s punditry have forced an examination of the continued sexism within the sport, we want to look at how sex, gender, race and sexuality impacts the game at the grassroots level. What more can be done to ensure better representation of women, women of colour, LGBT+ women and non-binary people across football? What can each of us do to help make our own clubs more inclusive? Levelling the Playing Field will be a day of interactive workshops and creative sessions to network, examine how the grassroots can tackle discrimination across the board, and create an inclusive game regardless of sex, gender, race, sexuality, or class. Get your tickets for here.

From Hackney Marshes to Wembley – Ensuring the Whole Game Benefits | July 1st | Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen

Since the last World Cup, the financial investment into women’s football has increased significantly. Most recently, FIFA promised to double the World Cup prize money, Barclays has been unveiled as the sponsor of the Women’s Super League, and the FA now requires clubs to demonstrate a certain level of financial backing in order to compete in the top divisions. But who is this investment benefitting? Does the increased funding reach grassroots teams? And through this increased focus on capital, can women’s football preserve its identity and independence from the men’s game? Our panel has representatives from grassroots to elite level, and will shine the light on these questions and more from the perspective of players, coaches and spectators. With the World Cup coming to an end, this is the perfect opportunity to discuss what’s next for the women’s game.

Panellists include Carrie Dunn, author of Roar of the Lionesses, football expert; Katee Hui, founder of Hackney Laces and winner of the BBC’s 2018 Unsung Hero of London award and Dom Collingwood, co-founder of Match Pint. Get your tickets here.

We Shoot Photography Exhibition | Opening June 5th | The Book Club, Shoreditch

Being a bit of a shutterbug myself, I am very much looking forward to seeing the work on offer from photographers including Daniela Porcelli, Alex Krook, Edi Whitehead and Cait Opperman. The exhibition aims to tell global stories of womxn’s football, captured by female players and fans. Get your tickets to the opening night here.

For more details on the events going on and how you can get involved in it visit thefestivaloffootball.com and follow their social media channels.

Stuart Barker
hellosince71@gmail.com