Women volunteering in football in Kent gathered together for an inspirational evening of discussion, networking and hearing from some of the leaders involved in grassroots football in the county.
Last night’s event at Ashford International Hotel was the second Kent FA Female Volunteer Forum of the year and provided an opportunity for women to share their experiences, empower each other and meet others with a shared passion.
Attendees took part in a motivational workshop led by Claire Foy, a business and personal coach and mentor, which touched on the importance of speaking up, how people see things from different perspectives and the range of strengths and talents volunteers can bring to their clubs and leagues.
A question and answer session followed, featuring a panel of guests involved in grassroots football - led by sports broadcaster Charlotte Richardson.
The panel included Kent FA Chair Denise Richmond, referee Kirsty Dowle, football coach Natalie Curtis, Kent FA Youth Council member Megan Abbott and Chair of the Kent Girls and Ladies League Leigh Willis.
They shared their experiences of how they became involved in football, challenges they have faced and how they would like to see football grow for women and girls.
Audience members were able to ask questions and share their own stories during a discussion which covered topics ranging from how women can balance playing and volunteering in football around having a family, the importance of women’s voices being heard in an often male-dominated environment and how female role models are helping to open up doors for others within football.
The evening was also an opportunity for women to meet others who shared their interest in football.
Among those who attended was Kat Chick, who is women’s development officer of the Orpington and Bromley District League.
She said: “It was really insightful and interesting to hear so many different voices and experiences people have gone through to get women’s football to where it is now - so many have had the same challenges.
“It’s a great idea to get the group together to break down those challenges and make it more inclusive.”
Carly Benville volunteers as club event organiser at Deal Town Football Club and said: “The panel was really good and I’ve come away feeling empowered - it really exceeded my expectations.”
Jo Treharne, who coaches Canterbury Eagles under-12s, founded Canterbury Old Bags and is a Kent FA Equal Game Ambassador for women and girls, said: “It was great to meet fellow women and find out there are all these women in football dotted around the county and hear about what they’re doing.”
The next Women’s Forum event will take place at 7pm on May 15 at Kent FA’s Invicta House in Ditton and will reflect on the success of the 2022/23 season and look ahead to 2023/24.