Never disheartened, Lewes FC is reaching out to like-minded organisations for mutual support. And what are we calling our posse of bad-ass women-empowering vessels? Well, the Sister Ships of course!
Lewes FC’s Sister Ships is a formalisation of our relationship with groups we’ve been talking to about Equality FC since we launched budget parity for both first teams in July 2017. Our Sister Ships are groups that empower women and so have natural common ground with our equality initiative. And, as we look to make football more attractive to previously ‘unwelcome’ women, so we will naturally expand our network to like-minded organisations who support our message.
We currently have 12 Sister Ships, including RISE, the Sussex-based domestic abuse charity, East Sussex Fire and Rescue, Brighton Women’s Centre and The Girls’ Network. More organisations are about to join (Sussex Police) and others are in the pipeline. See below for a full list of our current and pending Sister Ships. We’re excited about the Fire Service and the Police signing up, as, speaking to the Chief Officers of both organisations we agreed we’ve a lot in common in terms of ‘He For She’ work, and that Lewes FC can offer them welcome inclusive engagement in the form of women’s football matches.
Each Sister Ship supports the club in ways unique to them. For example, The Girls’ Network recently invited us to speak on a panel about girls, influence and the importance of networking at their mentees’ graduation event, which led to Sussex Fire and Rescue finding out about our equality initiative, fully relating to the myth-busting on gender stereotypes, and organising to sign up with us.
In turn, some of the female rugby players from Lewes Womens’ Rugby team met the Girls’ Network at one of our matches and expressed an interest in signing up as mentors for them. FiLiA want us to speak at their next conference (the largest feminist conference in Europe) and we’ve done a podcast with them, whilst RISE regularly invite us to their events,
come to our matches and tweet our posters (the CEO’s young daughter made a great team mascot when we were away to Aston Villa!). Brighton Women’s Centre have invited us to participate in their International Women’s Day conference for the last two years and as a result we’ve gained fans and met the organisers of our Womens’ Walking Football initiative (the first one of its kind in this county).
In Hove, Reigning Women season are giving us access to some of their audiences pre-shows this season, so that we can mingle, give out flyers and tell more people that we have closed the gender pay gap in the male bastion of football. Survivors’ Network have offered us ‘Over To You’ sessions for coaches and for staff/volunteers, whilst Lewes Women in Business gave us a free stall at their recent Christmas market.
There is something magical about collaboration when you’re pioneering culture change…you get more convinced, more determined, and you get stronger.
Each Sister Ship currently features on the Club’s website and exhibits our logo somewhere on theirs. Each has provided us with a few words on why they support the club, and shares our match day posters with their followers/members/users/employees/volunteers. We currently guarantee them 20 free tickets per women’s match, but they will be discounted tickets instead next season, so as not to risk inadvertently decreasing the value of watching one of the top 20 women’s teams in the country play. Sister Ships also get a 25% discount on ownerships.
Our match days provide a physical space for Sister Ship members to meet up, enjoy a match, and network. So it isn’t uncommon to see women and men who support women supporting the women on the pitch (who are of course supporting each other as a team). As such, the Pan itself supports a cascade of support networks in the inclusive environment of a women’s match day. Are you feeling the love yet? ‘Cos we certainly are.
Before each women’s match, we send the match day poster to contacts at each organisation and ask them to share it on their social media and come along to the match.
Lewes FC’s Sister Ships are poised at the beginning of an extraordinary adventure in equality. We can’t wait to find out what’s in store as we traverse the rough waves of sexism together, and effect the sea-change in gender equality that we know is coming….
Lewes FC Sister Ships, fully fledged:
RISE, the Sussex-based domestic abuse charity;