#HerGameToo: How do Ipswich Town's female fans feel attending matches?

Ipswich Town fans in the stands during the Sky Bet League One match at Portman Road, Ipswich. Pictur

Ipswich Town fans celebrate. - Credit: PA

Ipswich Town have revealed that 18% of the Club's 2021/22 season ticket holders are female.  With sales of season tickets for the 2022/2023 season starting well this week, AMY DOWNES reports on the steps the club are taking to increase that percentage and ensure that women are made to feel a welcome part of the Club.

Ipswich fan and Kings of Anglia columnist Amy Downes.

Ipswich fan and Kings of Anglia columnist Amy Downes. - Credit: Archant

This weekend sees a double-bill of fixtures for Ipswich Town, celebrating #HerGameToo. At the men's first-team fixture against Cambridge United and the Women's match against Southampton on Sunday.  

The Club partnered with the campaign in February, it aims for women and girls of all ages to feel confident and safe sharing their opinion about football online and in real life.

But is there more that can be done to ensure Town’s female supporters, and female supporters in general, feel comfortable?

I spoke to some female Ipswich Town fans to ask for their experiences on supporting The Blues, both home, away and online.

sport

Town fan, Chloe Westrope. - Credit: Contributed

Chloe Westrope told me: "I  have attended football games with my Dad since I was seven and have always found the Ipswich community to be friendly and kind.

"But I’ve had some bad experiences, just because I’m a woman. I get sent disgusting messages and am sexualised, instead of being spoken to like a person. It's very frustrating and not nice."

nicola wall

Town fan, Nicola Wall. - Credit: Contributed

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Nicola Wall said, "I think Portman Road is a very safe ground for women to go to.

"But I was very uncomfortable once at Gillingham: I was targeted for some verbal abuse regarding my appearance. A steward should have stepped in, but no-one did. Maybe they thought it was 'banter'. That's not how I saw it."

When asked, does this put them off going to games, they all replied that it did not, though each have also mentioned that they would be nervous about travelling to games on their own.

katie ling

Town fan, Katie Ling - Credit: Contributed

Katie Ling generally attends with family, but has attended alone recently: "I was a little apprehensive the first time I went to a Town game alone," she said.

"It was the worry of not knowing what it would be like without my dad or someone to chat to."

Previous to the pandemic, Supporter Liaison Officer for Ipswich Town, Liz Edwards, had recognised this and was working to improve matters when she created a space for female fans to meet up at home games.

Now, as part of the Blue’s initiatives to support women and girls who are connected to the Club, an official WhatsApp group has been created to provide a safe space for the ladies to connect online and in-person.

Liz Edwards will have an extensive #HerGameToo feature at the SLO Hub in the FanZone on Saturday and will be on hand to answer any questions.

Activities also taking place on the day include:-

- Both the men's and women's team will be wearing #HerGameToo warm-up t-shirts.

- The matchday programme at both games will have #HerGameToo content throughout.

- Participants of the Community Trust's Wildcats and girls EPDC centres will receive tickets to watch the Blues take on Cambridge.

- All U16s go free with a paying adult at the Goldstar Ground to watch Town Women on Sunday.

- The Community Trust will be running girls only coaching sessions which will take place from 1.30pm. 

- Participants from our girls Community programme will be the ballgirls for the match.