Girls United Stage Major Tournament For International Women's Day
On Saturday 11 March, at Powerleague Shoreditch in Central London, Girls United held the fifth edition of their annual International Women’s Day tournament, with over 300 attendees helping the non-profit to reach the fundraising target of £6,000, in support of safe spaces for girls and young women in football.
The tournament, sponsored by Hawk-Eye Innovations, Pulselive & Beyond Sports of the Sony Sports Innovation Group, was designed to celebrate women in football and to support Girls United’s grassroots programmes that provide girls with opportunities to succeed on and off the pitch.
This year’s fundraising theme, "Make Space", was developed in response to recent findings by Women in Sport, showing that 49% of girls surveyed don’t feel safe exercising in their local park and 79% indicated that access to appropriate changing facilities and toilets had a direct impact on their decision to participate in sport or not.
Powerleague, the official venue sponsors, hosted the event at their Central London facilities in Shoreditch, with 30 teams competing across 3 categories (Beginner Women’s & Non-Binary x2 and Intermediate Women’s & Non-Binary).
The event was officially opened by special guest, Victoire Cogevina Reynal, VP of Women’s Football at Onefootball and UN Ambassador for Gender Equality, who drew from her own experiences of growing up in Argentina without access to safe spaces in which to enjoy her passion of playing football.
Matches were quickly underway with women’s football teams coming together from across London to play in 129 games across 6 pitches, each sponsored and named after supporting organisations: Hawk-Eye Innovations, Pulselive, Beyond Sports, Mitre Sports, Starling Bank and VERSUS.
Common Goal were also present on the day as sponsors of the tournament’s Challenge Pitch, where participants were invited to take part in a variety of activities to win tickets for a very special raffle. Prizes included official Euro 2022 Lioness Monopoly sets, training gear and match edition kits, as well as match worn shirts and boots from Girls United Global Ambassador and Real Madrid player, Caroline Weir.
The closing ceremony saw South London Laces, Football Beyond Borders Women and Deep Heat receive their medals and prizes, which included tickets to this year’s FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium as well as entry to the official tournament afterparty event. Other teams in attendance included Bend it like Peckham FC, Goal Diggers FC, Clapton Cobras, South London Laces and Romance FC.
Romina Calatayud, Girls United Founder & CEO, said: "The anticipation for this year’s tournament was bigger than ever, so it was fantastic to receive the level of support that we did, allowing us to not only host our biggest event yet, but to also reach our fundraising target.
"This year’s key message of making spaces for the next generation of players in which they feel comfortable, empowered and most importantly safe, is something we all feel so strongly about. The fact it resonates with so many people shows just how much the lack of access to such spaces needs addressing.
"The London female grassroots community is truly inspiring and something that we are so proud to be a part of as an organisation. I personally take a lot of energy from all of the International Women’s Day activities and the exciting conversations that we have been having with our partners about how we can make grassroots football safer for girls and women in football."
Dina Hassan, Global Head of Marketing at Sony's Sports Businesses, commented: "We were delighted to support the Girls Utd FA #IWD tournament for a 2nd year in a row. It's a fantastic initiative that shares a mission with our group of businesses in supporting grassroots and women in sport. We were more than happy to participate in the return of this inspiring event, and we will continue to support Girls Utd in creating a safe space for girls and young women in football in local UK communities and those abroad."
A Powerleague representative added: ‘’Powerleague were delighted to support the International Women’s Day tournament for the second year running. The work that Romina and the team at Girls United do is fantastic, and we will carry on working with them and other partners in this space. Powerleague are passionate about providing safe & comfortable environments, and we hope this event empowers more participation amongst women and girls’’
The annual International Women’s Day tournament is one of several celebrations that took place across Girls United’s two locations of London and Mexico. Throughout the week, girls attending partner schools in South London enjoyed active workshops aimed at redefining female role models through our ‘Love The Game x Nike’ programme. Teachers were invited to attend CPD courses themed around "Empowering and Supporting Females in Sport". Across the Atlantic, 65 players and over 150 supporters attended a Girls United International Women’s Day youth tournament, the only of its kind in the Quintana Roo region of Mexico.
Wednesday 8 March, International Women’s Day itself, also marked Girls United’s 6th Anniversary. Since launching in 2017, over 130 Girls United coaches have provided 5,500+ hours of sessions to approximately 4,500 participants in London and Mexico.
Girls United envisions a world where girls and women globally can reach their potential, using the power of football. Providing opportunities for girls and women in London and Mexico, Girls United aims to develop important life skills and confidence along with technical and physical skills.
For more information please contact Marketing & Communications Manager Josh Emerson at Josh@girlsunitedfa.org, visit their website at girlsunitedfa.org or connect with Girls United on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter as @girlsunitedfa.
Find out more about Girls United by clicking here.