Last week we were pleasantly surprised to receive a message from Lucozade Sport, they invited us to the launch event for their campaign to inspire support for the Lionesses at this summer’s Women’s World Cup.
That morning they shared their excellent new advert where they have reimagined Baddiel and Skinner’s ‘Three Lions’ and turned it into ‘Three Lionesses.’ In the afternoon they were hosting a women’s football tournament at Power League’s Nine Elms branch. The event also included special guest Jordan Nobbs. The Arsenal striker was sadly unable to join the Lionesses’ in France after failing to recover from a ruptured ACL injury picked up in the Gunners’ 4-0 win over Everton in the Women’s Super League.
The Nine Elms pitches are located on the roof of the building, overlooking the Thames and Battersea Power Station. When Tom and I arrived we went to get the lift up to the pitches and were joined in the left by Jordan! In contrast to men’s football, female footballers are much more accessible than their male counterparts, it is common to see the ladies engaging with fans wherever possible. That being said, it was still quite surreal to be stood three feet away from one of the players responsible for you falling in love with the women’s game.
Being slightly star struck we spoke to Jordan briefly and described where we were from and about an exciting campaign that we’re hoping to launch in the next few months. They say never meet your heroes although this phrase couldn’t have been more wrong in this case!
We arrived on the roof and found players lacing up their boots, a DJ spinning tunes and some gorgeous looking street food being prepared by the folks at Spier’s Salads. I didn’t quite know what to expect beforehand but I was loving what I found.
Lucozade Sports’ head of marketing, Claire Keaveny, welcomed everyone and explained that as well as the Three Lionesses advert, Lucozade wanted to announce that they are also offering 90,000 minutes of free pitch time nationwide through Power League and Goals football centres in a bid to give more women the opportunity to get into the sport that they love.
Jordan then echoed her support for this great campaign and her hope that girls and women can all have the opportunities and facilities to play the game whatever their level, because let’s face it, at the moment they don’t! The teams participating in the tournament were mainly made up of employees from the likes of The Sun, Daily Mail, freelance journalists, the Lucozade team and the Active Communities Network.
Some of the teams were made up of players who all knew each other while others included players who had only met that afternoon. There were five teams in total, all named after Lionesses. Every team would play each other once and the top four going into semi-finals and then a final to decide the overall winners. It was Houghton vs Stokes in the first match of the tournament. Had she been there, Demi would have been proud to have seen her side dominate and come away 6-0 winners in that game.
Next up was Parris vs Moore. Moore were headed by QPR player and possibly the hardest working freelance journalist around at the moment, Samantha Miller. Sam did explain to me that because of her recent work with the BBC and KitBag it has meant that she hasn’t played as much as she would have liked to last season so she was looking forward to getting her boots on today. It was a frustrating start for Samantha as her side went down 3-1 in their opening fixture.
Moore and Houghton had the chance to make amends for their first-round defeats when they took on each other. This was the most entertaining game so far as both sides found their scoring boots in a 4-4 draw.
During the breaks between matches, I managed to catch up with some of the players and find out a little about them and their backgrounds. Some of the ladies have had experience playing previously while others hadn’t really ever kicked a ball since PE at school. That’s if they were even allowed to play football at that time!
The Daily Mail’s Parris FC had England Rugby U21 international, Sophie Watkiss, in their team. Of course, her teammates feared that Sophie might keep trying to pick the ball up and run with it so of course they put her in goal. Sophie made a number of great reaction saves and covered her goal well, making it difficult for anyone to get passed her.
As the tournament progressed it was good to see that teams were all taking points off each other. Stokes and Parris were both victorious in their semi-finals and would take on each other in the final. Normally finals are dull affairs with both sides playing it cautiously to avoid a defeat but not this one, both sides were going for the win! The high scoring final finished 4-3 to Active Communities Network‘s Parris FC. I would say just about worthy winners although Stokes can be immensely proud of their performances throughout the day.
The tournament was a real success, every one of the players that I spoke to enjoyed having the opportunity to play football, and for me, that is what the whole day was about. While it is important for Lucozade to be championing and raising awareness of the Lionesses, the legacy of this campaign will hopefully be the provision of free facilities so women can have the opportunity to become players and not just spectators.