Review: The First Global Football Webinar

With women’s football joining the rest of the world in lockdown due to the Covid19 pandemic it has been up to players and supporters alike to be entertained in the virtual online world of women’s football through a series of Zoom calls and Tik Tok videos.

As founder of the Bristol City Women Supporters Group, I was delighted to be invited to a new groundbreaking event on the Zoom video platform, an international webinar connecting women’s football supporter groups from England, Spain and the Americas. The event was hosted by Nicaraguan based women’s football fanatic Manu Arriaza and the event was translated by Kat Morales.

The evening which started at 7pm UK time and began with introductions from the eighteen group members participating. This could also be accompanied by a song or chant which some of the Mexican fans entertained us with. Natalie Burrell, Chairwoman of the Barmy Army, the Manchester United’s Supporters Club sang a song from their repertoire.

The Spanish representative, a fan from Valencia, spoke about the need to grow the game globally and how she was looking forward to connecting with other supporters in this event which was a common theme shared by most the participants.

The second part of the evening Manu asked fans to detail their greatest memories of supporting their clubs. Orlando Pride fan Steff spoke about her passion for the game despite the fact that she can’t get to as many games as she would like due to her location.

Jude Morris-King from the Manchester City Women Supporters Club reminisced about the WSL titles and FA cups they had won. While as another representative from the ‘Barmy Army’ said that their greatest achievement to date was beating Manchester City.

Jo from the new Liverpool Women’s Supporters Club spoke about how she was willing to learn from other organisations as she wanted her group to grow.

A supporter representing Rebano Femenil which supports Mexican team Chivas spoke about how her proudest moment was watching her team win the National Championship.

Mark from the Chelsea Women Supporter’s Group detailed a story of how on a pre-season tour watching the Blues in France while his colleague, Kerri, who was also on the webinar managed to get onto the team’s coach where Emma Hayes and the Chelsea players sang happy birthday to her!

I spoke about my fondest memories as a Vixens fan, this included wins against Manchester United and Birmingham City this season as I sadly wasn’t a fan in the ‘Glory days’ when we reached two FA Cup finals and knocked Barcelona out of the Champions League.

One of the fans from Portland Thorns group, Rose City Riveters, told a delightful story of how she was invited by Alex Morgan to a barbecue with all the players during the 2013 NWSL finals.

Jen Muller from Sky Blue FC Supporters Group, Cloud 9, gave a heartfelt passionate speech about the struggles of being a fan in a tough season. Something I could definitely relate to but did recall an NWSL game where her team was 3-0 down against Seattle Reign only for an inspired performance by Sam Kerr to turn it around and result in a 5-4 win for Sky Blue with the Australian international bagging a hat-trick.

With time running out and half the topics not being covered it was agreed by all that it had been an extremely successful event and we would come back for a part two at a later date.

To wrap things up on this occasion we finished off with a Q&A where major issues of the women’s game were briefly discussed including an impassioned speech from Gabby

Another Portland Thorns fan who spoke about the difficulties that her group faced whilst dealing with the club officially, implying it was a good cop, bad cop situation, good on match days and bad off the field when fans are trying to gain favours from the club. She used the example that the Thorns object to fans using official club images but they themselves will use images of supporters how they see fit without consulting fans. It’s a justified argument of how fan groups should be shown more respect by the clubs. She finished off by saying that fans should be involved in the running of their club whilst at the same time maintaining their distance.

The last word of a highly informative and enjoyable evening went to Manu who said to us all “You are there for the club, not the front office.”

I am very much looking forward to being part of the next event.