Ahead of International Women's Day 2024, CAFE spoke with women who are passionate about access and inclusion for disabled people.

Whether disabled fans themselves, or working to remove barriers affecting disabled people in sport, we sought a wide range of experiences and opinions to shine a spotlight on the topic.

CAFE Fans Liaison, Access and Administration Officer, Amy Wilson, shares her thoughts below on life as a disabled fan, as well as a woman with a career in the sports sector.

As a disabled woman, who is a massive sports fan and also employed in the industry, days like International Women’s Day are important as it is gives an opportunity to shine a light on all the women working so many different roles within the sport and the thousands of females who are passionate supporters of their clubs.

As a child growing up in a football loving family, there was never much option but for me to enjoy watching football, something I still do now. However, back then, it was always something I felt I could only do from home either by watching on the TV or listening on the radio, not only because football stadiums were not very accessible then, but it never felt to me that girls and women went to live matches.

I did not have any female members of my family who went to matches, but my dad, brothers and uncles regularly did, and there was no female representation on football shows on TV or in the media. In fact, when I was asked what career I wanted to go into when in school and I said football journalism, I was told that wasn’t an option for me, not only because of the accessibility difficulties I would face at stadiums, but because I was a girl and working in football was not an option as it was not an environment for females.

When I started going to watch live football in 1993, it was very noticeable that disabled women did not go to matches very often. I was usually the only girl at many of my team’s games. Access would have played a part in this, but I also feel that it was down to women feeling they would not be welcome or treated the same as men. 

Over time, the number of women attending live matches at my club has risen dramatically. There are far more female season ticket holders now than back in 1993, and more younger girls regularly going to matches with their families, which is always great to see. Some of my closest friends are girls that I have met from going to matches, and it is great to have the love of our team in common.

Representation of females across footballing media has increased, particularly in the last five years, with many more female journalists, pundits and ex-players appearing on TV or in the written press. This has shown that women can be and are just a knowledgeable and insightful about the sport as their male counterparts and are rightfully appearing to a wider audience.

This will serve to encourage more young girls to work in football media as they now have visible role models leading the way.

As always, I think there will always be criticism of female football fans and those working within the sport, particularly in the media. Football is still seen by so many people as “men-only sport” and comments on social media often back up this misconception.

However, if you are a female and want to go to matches or work in the media, you should not let the outdated and quite frankly incorrect opinions of some stop you.

Football is a game for all regardless of your gender, age, race, and disability. Women have as much right to be at matches supporting our teams, to share our opinions on social media or more widely on national TV and media and to work in the sport that we love just as much as anyone else.

Celebrating International Women's Day 2024

Joana Cal appointed to CAFE Board of Trustees

"Female ambassadors and representation in the game really do make a difference, especially for young women"

"I realised later that the pressure was actually, to some extent, double. Not only am I a woman, but I am also a disabled woman"

"The truth is that football has always been a man's world, but little by little women are making inroads and taking on roles that were not so common in the past"

"There still isn’t the same acceptance for women playing or watching football"

"If it means that they have to make changes for you to be welcomed, then that can only benefit the game"

"I have always felt valued as a person, but the work that we women do needs to be defended and fought for much more than that of men"

Published 8/3/2024