A seventh-tier women’s football team finished their season in style with a visit to the Houses of Parliament.
Camden Town WFC were guests of honour at a parliamentary reception hosted by Craig Tracey MP, to celebrate the club’s partnership with Pitching In – a grassroots sport investment programme launched by Entain, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral.
Pitching In are the title sponsors of the Trident Leagues, the seventh and eighth tiers of men’s football, and kickstarted their investment in women’s football this season with sponsorship of Camden, who play in the Greater London Women’s Football League.
Camden ended their season on the pitch in seventh place in the Premier Division, with hopes of promotion next term, but capped off their season with a tour of the House of Commons chamber alongside England legend Stuart Pearce.
Jade Feige, co-captain of the club, said: “It is so cool.
“It is not something I would have fathomed, I wouldn’t have imagined being on a team where we have this opportunity, let alone coming here and meeting a ton of MPs and the folks at Pitching In.
“I had never been inside the building so being here is magical. We go and play week in, week out and that’s what it is all about but then you get these special moments and you realise there is something bigger going on here with women’s football.
“We are in our little bubble of 90 minutes on Sundays but there is a bigger movement going on and it’s cool to be a part of it.”
MPs from across the political spectrum attended the celebratory event, with Kim Leadbeater MP dropping in to show her support and Sport Minister Stuart Andrew MP also finding out more about Pitching In’s landmark investment in grassroots football.
Pitching In’s investment into the women’s game comes at a crucial time following the Lionesses’ Euros victory last summer, with Sarina Wiegman’s side set to go again at the World Cup in Australia later this year.
Women’s football has seen exponential levels of growth this season, with over 60,000 fans attending Arsenal’s Champions League match against Wolfsburg at the Emirates and a world-record crowd at this weekend’s FA Cup Final at Wembley – but Feige highlighted the importance of investment at all parts of the pyramid.
“A few years ago, when I said I play football people would assume you are really bad or you are professional, but there is this middle ground and that is key to help it grow,” she added.
“You can see that level of football where they are so good, but there is something magical about getting people at any level to play.
“Football is a bit of a microcosm for life, you learn so many different skills, there are so many experiences that happen that translate to everyday life so it is really valuable for anybody to be a part of, whatever level you want to play at.
“It is important to encourage everyone, but especially women because we are at this growth stage where it is becoming normalised and more popular. It is only going to grow in popularity.”
The event was also attended by Pearce, who insisted there is now no stopping the growth of the women’s game.
“About 15 years ago I was working with the FA alongside Hope Powell and saw the women’s game starting to grow, and at this moment in time it has got no glass ceiling,” he said.
“It can go anywhere it wants. It is brilliant for me to see how the game has grown, the victories for the England team has sparked it once again, and now it can surpass the men.”
Entain, the global betting and gaming operator behind Ladbrokes and Coral, is proud to support Camden Town FC as part of its ‘Pitching In’ Grassroots Investment Fund. Through Pitching In, Entain supports community sport, including the ‘Pitching In’ Trident Leagues.