Willa Bailey – Lewes Community Football Club

Willa Bailey

Written by: John

I’m Willa and I have been a member of Lewes FC since 2021. However, my own connection with Lewes dates back much further to many happy days spent there with my grandfather, whose love for football sparked my own. For me, football has always been about family, and it is the deep roots that clubs share with their communities that are integral to the sport’s transformative powers. Now, aged 23, I am eager to be involved more deeply with Lewes FC, due to its unwavering commitment to community and equality.

Last year, I received a newspaper clipping in the post from my dad – an International Women’s Day article about Lewes FC’s equality initiative. I was captivated by the club’s matter-of-fact attitude – football’s relationship with social change is indisputable and it was a no-brainer for Lewes to harness this to communicate their gender equality message. At the time, I was writing my dissertation proposal on women’s football and being introduced to a club so committed to challenging exclusionary notions of the game could not have come at a more perfect moment. I became a member immediately and once my project began, Lewes was one of my first ports of call. Through discussions with Karen Dobres last summer, I began to think of what my own contribution to the club could be.

As a young person I believe I can offer a fresh energy and unique outlook that will add genuine value to the board and ensure they can relate to a younger audience. By engaging young people in conservations about equality and respect, we can guarantee that the movement started by this club can prevail through generations. I would be uniquely placed to communicate directly with young people, working to increase and diversify the ownership of the club. After all, it is the future generations who will be around to see the change that we are trying to achieve.

Studying Sustainable Development at Edinburgh University, alongside my own love for football, has made me truly committed to furthering the relationship between sports and social change. For my dissertation I spoke to a range of women in football. Despite their varied roles, everyone I spoke to reflected on the importance of preserving football’s community and grassroots nature. Access to football is not equal; where race, class and gender intersect, certain women are disproportionately affected. In interviews with women and non-binary grassroots clubs I explored these issues and learnt about the inclusive and accessible approaches they are fostering. Through this research, I have a distinctive perspective on the sport that I want to bring to Lewes.

I believe the combination of my experience, education and ideals mean I am well-placed to make a meaningful contribution to your football club. I am driven to be a part of a club that is committed to levelling the playing field and it would be an honour to be a part of this community. Thank you for this opportunity to put myself forward.