Tonbridge Angels Ladies v Enfield Town Ladies.
7.45pm, 9th January 2019, Longmead Stadium, Tonbridge.
Isthmian League Cup Quarter Final.
Can you honestly name other mainstream global sport which has taken so long putting so little effort in to trying to engage the other half of the world’s population as mens’ Association Football?
A sweaty, sweary, beer swilling all male preserve at amateur level, on and off the pitch. And at the professional level, the pinnacle of egotistical male team sport across the world.
Women were not welcome. They cramped mens’ style, spoiling it for them. Its only value was to get their man out of the house for a few hours peace and quiet on a Saturday afternoon, and the occasional midweek evening, so they could do the cleaning.
It took decades for football to be embraced as a healthy, invigorating, inspiring, empowering team sport choice for women, in parallel with men, not in competition with them.
Four seasons ago Tonbridge Angels didn’t have a Ladies Team. But by 2018 they had a Ladies Kent Divisional Cup winning team. At last, progress, and with that progress comes greater opportunity and challenges.
On Wednesday 9th January 2019 Tonbridge Angels Ladies latest challenge is an Isthmian League Cup Quarter Final against Enfield Town Ladies. Enfield play at Tier 4, compared to the Angels Tier 7. Let’s face it, it’s very tough call, but that is why they play the game.
The last time the Angels were faced with this kind of gap was when they played Charlton. They suffered a heavy defeat – but they came back stronger, more focused and united, and grew from the experience. They might lose this one too, but Tonbridge Angels Ladies will be going into the game against Enfield Ladies not just looking to win and cause an upset, but also to develop and learn. How many mens teams go in to, and come out of, potential giant killing cup ties with that mindset?
The added bonus for the Ladies is that the game is at Tonbridge Angels Longmead Stadium, instead of their regular home at nearby Hadlow College. Longmead offers a great (double FA award winning!) pitch, the stadium atmosphere under the floodlights, a bigger crowd and, perhaps most of all, the recognition that they belong.
They will also be welcoming football blogging royalty, Two Men in Search of The Beautiful Game, to their first ever Ladies’ match, which is great to hear, as it helps spread the word to the huge online football community.
Let’s face it, it’s time for proper recognition for all these players, and at Women’s Association Football matches everywhere. Their trainers and supporters, their families, the people who believe in them, to keep giving them the pitch time, and the sponsorship such as the Foresters Arms in Tonbridge https://m.facebook.com/foresterstonbridge/?rc=p not just because they think about football, and talk about it, and dream about it, but because they actually do it.
Give them the respect and support that deserves.