Emma Bowell, the 29-year-old civil servant from Croydon, is taking over the role of chairperson for Croydon’s Women’s Football Club from April 2021. Eastlondonlines talks to her about her connection to women’s football and her plan for the club she’s about to lead.
Emma Bowell found her love for women’s football ‘ironically’ through her father when she went to a Chelsea Women’s home match with him for just £3.
“I’ve literally had coffees that have been more expensive than that,” said Bowell. She remembers the really nice atmosphere and “amazing connection” between the players and the fans which grabbed her interest.
Her prior experiences were with her school, being lucky enough to attend Crystal Palace and World Cup football games. She said: “I definitely did not appreciate it enough at the time when I was nine years old.”
Bowell stumbled across the team by chance. She saw a poster for a Croydon game that she wasn’t able to make but she followed the team on social media where she saw they were having a pub quiz to raise funds for the club.
Through this, Bowell found out that there was an opportunity to help out, becoming the Liaison Officer. In that role, she worked with players and resolved any issues they didn’t feel comfortable going to the coaches with.
It is about knowing you have each other’s back
Croydon’s Women’s Football team is made up of people from all different ages or different backgrounds. “I think everyone is coming together because they want to be involved and see the Club grow,” said Bowell. For her, the team represents footballing talent but also people who are fun and full of positivity, something she finds really important in a team member.
But it is also about having each other’s backs off the pitch, Bowell said.
She added: “The other part is a lot of strategy behind the scenes, stuff that you don’t necessarily think about on match day; making sure the club is registered in the right league, making sure we’ve got a plan for how we want to grow as a club and the steps we want to take in the future.”
Memorable experiences Bowell had with women’s football allowed her to have a deeper understanding of the sport. “I’m always encouraging other people to give it a go and see if they enjoy it… I don’t know how many young women know about the opportunity to play football.”
“The priority certainly for the next season or two will be to establish as a team”, Bowell said.
“This season has been really disrupted because of Covid-19 and we just made the shift from being an under 18 team to being an all-ages team…
“We are also looking at how we can expand the committee and the opportunities for more women to become involved behind the scenes.”
Bowell also hopes for more diversity and inclusion in the future, for the team, the committee and the fans. Bowell said: “Women’s football is starting to grow in popularity. We’ve seen it with the [Women’s] World Cup in 2019, there were increased attendances at women’s Super League.”
She added: “BBC Sports are doing a lot of work for women’s sporting by raising the profile of it. There does seem to be an attitude shift but there’s still definitely this perception that they’re not as good.
“We had a few of the fans from Croydon men’s team and I think that’s really good that people are supporting the Club as a whole and not just the men. We would definitely love to see more and more people coming along and getting involved. I think that would be huge.”