Cheltenham Town Ladies Football Club (CTLFC) are the leading ladies’ football team in Gloucestershire. Yet their captain, Jenn Brown-Wealls, says they are “nowhere on the scale of the men’s game”.
In the past five years the club has won the Gloucestershire FA Chartered Standard Club of the Year Award, had 2 promotions, 3 cup final appearances and seen player numbers increase by 300%.
Why is it then, that Cheltenham Town Mens FC gets an average of 2,500 supporters per game, yet this was a record turnout for the ladies.
Standing room only. Some of our record crowd at Petersfield Park today. Thank you for the support. pic.twitter.com/zjoiMA1YWb
— Cheltenham Town Ladies FC (@CTLadies) October 23, 2016
CTLFC, however, have seen interest in their club increase over the years as they’ve gained players and supporters.
Jean Brown-Wealls said: “Gradually over time it’s getting better but it’s baby steps…eventually the theory is that it will come closer together [to the mens’]. ”
For now, the main focus for the club is to encourage young girls to be interested in the sport.
Jacqueline Haines has played for Cheltenham Ladies for 7 years. She is in the development team for the club and through her job as a P.E teacher, she has seen the game advance over time: “I’ve seen the development of girls’ football just grow and grow”.
The Football Association says that there are three million active female football players in the UK, but they still want more to get involved. They encourage girls through coaching programmes and football-themed workouts.
They use role models like England captain Steph Houghton MBE, for girls to look up to. She is a digital ambassador for the Women’s Super League and has competed in the Olympics.
It is clear that women’s football is yet to have as much interest from the public as men’s. But players like those at CTLFC are hopeful for the future, reassured by the growing numbers of their club.