As we continue to spotlight individuals working in grassroots football across London, today we are focusing on East London Ladies Co-Founder, Manager and Lead Coach Viv Jeffers. Viv talks about how she became the role model she couldn’t find in the football community and how organisations, such as London FA, can do more in increasing the representation of diversity in football.
"I can’t say there are any specific moments in my life that have shaped who I am today, for me it is more of a case that when I was growing up, there wasn’t many individuals like me, both in the grassroots and professional community. The lack of representation of both players, coaches and managers in the football community inspired me to be that change, to be who I didn’t see, in a sport which I absolutely love.
"I have learnt that although passion can push you to pursue something that you love and literally eat, breathe and sleep, you need perseverance, self-belief, hard work and PMA to not only stand up for what you believe in but also keep fighting for what you love and enjoy.
"Although I think that it is good for the London FA to celebrate Black History Month, I feel that it should go beyond one month. Saying that, I do think that it is important that London FA celebrates Black History Month because it shines that worthy and deserving bright light on the amazing individuals within the black football community who are going above and beyond for the sport that they are passionate about and the desire to provide opportunities for individuals in the football community.
"Also, it enables the London FA to provide both inspiration, admiration, and representation for all those positive role models in the black football community doing amazing work and show the world that diversity in football is important, from players to coaches and managers to other key roles in football.
"I think the things that organisations like LFA can do better in terms of supporting black communities in football are hosting / holding more events – such as networking, tournaments, awards, broaden people’s knowledge of the work that they do, allowing individuals to know that we exist – such as newsletters, social media shoutouts and being more involved in events – invitations to matches at Wembley / box experiences – gives us opportunities to network and meet people.
"East London Ladies FC is a grassroots football club for (the females by the females), for girls and women from all walks of life, irrespective of age, ethnicity, sexuality and playing ability, etc, where a positive and healthy lifestyle both mental and physical is promoted in a fun, inclusive and safe space.
"The club was founded by both me and Pav Patel in 2014 driven by our passion for the sport and desire to give back to the community and engage girls and women in grassroots football. The both of us realised the value and step up that sport can offer girls and women and believed that sport serves not only to develop girls and women as individuals, but also helps them to develop their sense of comradeship and their ability to communicate with others, thus enriching every aspect of their future lives.
"The club is run on a voluntary basis, which has grown immensely over the years with over 120 girls and women engaging in football sessions on a weekly basis, aged 2 to 45+, from the Little Dribblers to the Mums Squad. The club provides the opportunity to play football on a social and / or competitive level, with currently five out of the eleven teams playing competitively in various leagues, such as the Greater London Women’s Football League.
"Over the years, East London Ladies FC has had many achievements and proud moments, such as winning Grassroots Club of the Year for London which was awarded to us by London FA and England Football. Most recently, as the Club Manager, I was nominated as a Sky Bet Football No1 due to the work that I am doing in the grassroots football community for both girls and women. I found that my role in the club is not only that of a Co-Founder Manager and Lead Coach, but also as a friend, agony aunt and cheerleader."