It is the end of an era at Bradford City Women’s Football Club as Chairwoman Sally Thackary is hanging up her boots and retiring after 22 years at the club. We have seen Sally retire before however, this time it is for good which is going to be a massive loss for the club as Sally has been an integral part of the clubs set up for many years.
The final act for Sally is for her to recruit her replacement and more essential volunteers to help with the running of the club once she leaves her role. In her statement announcing the retirement, Sally says ‘The two greatest challenges we have faced every season are funding and sponsorship, and securing sufficient volunteers to form the committee that runs the club and other volunteers to help on match days and behind the scenes.’ All these roles that Sally mentions are increasingly vital for every club but for Bradford who have struggled financially in the past they are proving more vital than ever with Sally stating volunteers need to be found in order for the club to survive past Christmas.
Now as a fan of both the Bradford men’s and women’s teams I am struggling to understand why the women’s team is struggling so much. The men’s team (when fans are allowed) bring in some of the highest number of fans for league 2 each week, yet the women struggle to get people through the gates. Maybe if there was more financial input from Rupp and Rhodes the women may not struggle as much and if the men actually pushed the women’s team with frequent advertising not just when they felt like it then maybe more fans would be aware of the potential the women’s side holds. Even if advertising them with a few more tweets reached 100/200 people per game, gate revenue would be up and interest would have peaked. However, the men’s side only really pushes the women when it suits them and to some fans it may just be like they are second thought and not as important as they should be.
Yes, they have tweeted match reports and the statement from Sally but imagine if they promoted all their games, signings and goings on, people might be more enticed to volunteer as they knew more about the club in question.
Bradford City also faced another setback as volunteer and Covid officer Chris Routledge left the club to follow his daughter Aimee as she left the club to find new opportunities so that leaves another role empty and to be filled as soon as possible to keep up with the season restarting. As Sally says ‘need help to survive beyond Christmas’ this just goes to show how much is actually needed to keep the club going once the season starts back up and how the club are struggling. It isn’t right to see a club tied in with a big club like Bradford City struggling as much as they are as they have the name that could bring plenty of potential through the door but the men’s club just don’t seem to see that potential. Imagine how they would look as the game grows and fans start asking if they have a women’s team to follow but thanks to previous efforts there was no longer a team around. I know as a men’s team chairman I would be embarrassed.
Maybe roles aren’t being filled due to a lack of pay but being a volunteer can bring its own perks, such as getting to know a great team and committee, I know from attending games and talking to players and staff that this club is such a great to be around everyone is friendly and happy to help each other out so you would be getting involved with a great group if you did volunteer. Plus as Sally say’s ‘it is a unique opportunity to become involved in the ever-growing women’s game, to have the chance to influence the direction and journey the club will take’. Just imagine how great that feeling could be if the team was to be promoted or win cups, just knowing you were involved on that journey would be fantastic and would certainly give me a sense of accomplishment that I could be proud of knowing I was apart of something like that.
No one wants to see their club struggling especially not in the current climate so this is when the support for women’s football needs to come together and help Bradford and other teams struggling out. It is also about time we started seeing the men’s team stepping up to help out too rather than the occasional tweet.
If you are local to Bradford and want to know any more information about the volunteer opportunities available please email firstname.lastname@example.org as your interest may just be the difference between the club surviving or not.