Since 71 Awards 2020/21: The Game Changer Award – Lewes FC Women

With the season’s disappointing and abrupt conclusion we still wanted to reward the amazing work within women’s football. The purpose of the Game Changer Award is to recognise a club, player, coach or fan who have gone above and beyond to support their team, community or pushing to change perceptions of women’s football for the better.

When considering a worthy winner of the inaugural award, there could only be one winner, and it gives me great pleasure to congratulate everyone involved in Lewes FC Women. The club epitomises so many of the elements at the heart of this award.

While we are recognising the achievements of those involved in the women’s team, we must also recognise the role and support of the men’s team and all involved in the club. Everyone reading this should be aware of the club’s groundbreaking EqualityFC campaign that saw them become the first club to have equal budgets for both women’s and men’s teams. It’s common in women’s football that the men’s side of the partnership often pay minimal attention to their sister club but not in the case of Lewes, both teams exist as equal partners working together for their mutual success. This ethos is considered as being quite radical but the club has proven that it can be done and not at the expense of their club’s success.

Lewes forward Jess King recently teamed up with Max Mezzowave to release the track Raise Us Up. The track was written by King and focuses on gender inequality in football. The lyrics that perfectly sum up what the club is working towards and what all others should aspire to follow. 

The club is one hundred per cent community-owned and includes around 1,500 owners, each of whom has a share in the club. These owners stretch across the globe, including Canada, United States, South Africa, India, Russia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The club welcomes new members to the ownership team so if you think that you would like to play your part in helping push the club onto bigger and better things then you can find out more information on their website – www.lewesfc.com/owners.

The club wasn’t shy in calling out those in charge of the Football Association on the huge disparity in the FA Cup prize money given to women’s teams compared to men’s teams. The total women’s prize fund for the competition is £309,355, around one per cent of the men’s £30.25m. Something that they fight to improve every year and that has been picked up by many of the leading national media outlets.

Photo: James Boyes

Lewes FC recently established Lewes FC SisterShips. These are a group of like-minded organisations that are all striving in their own way to support the fight for gender equality, either by campaigning or directly doing great work to support women. Current members include a local domestic abuse charity, East Sussex Fire and Rescue, Feminist organisation FiLiA, Lewes Women Rugby Club and you can expect this to increase in the future.

I love how the club have turned the tables and have been supporting their own supporters during the lockdown period. They have been staying in contact with their fans with personal calls to them, as well as visiting their supermarkets to boost local food bank donations. Lockdown hit children’s daily routines quite hard so the club asked to hear from parents whose children have been conscientious and are deserving of reward and recognition, they were given the letter from the club acknowledging them as Home Heroes.

On winning the award, Co-Director, Karen Dobres said, “We’re delighted to be honoured as Game Changers by Since ’71 blog in their inaugural awards. We are great fans of Since ’71 for giving much-needed visibility to the women’s game, and covering matches from grassroots to Championship whilst shining a light on women who boss the pitch. The name of the blog itself is genius because it draws attention to the FA’s historical ban on women’s football – the very reason the game needs the attention right now. Thank you so much!”

Well done to everyone involved, keep up the amazing work and we look forward to seeing you at the Dripping Pan at the beginning of next season.