Nine things for Suffolk women’s football to take on board after the FA Cup final
- Credit: Archant
After another fantastic showing at the centrepiece of women’s domestic football, what inspiration can Suffolk take into its clubs and leagues?
1) Suffolk has talent to show
In this year’s final the talent was a Abi Byrne from Suffolk FA who took charge of the game as its referee. Rising to ref a game that is seen as a jewel in women’s football in this country is no mean feat. It’s great to see all types of footballing talent from Suffolk being recognised.
2) The importance of putting on a show for fans
The FA stepped up a gear this year offering a bigger and better fanzone for those attending. While that sort of event might not be appropriate back at home it’s important to keep engagement going throughout big events whether that’s on social media or at the game itself.
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3) Get them involved young
One of the success of the women’s FA Cup final is the number of youngsters it engages. Free tickets are a great idea to get families along and often burgeoning wildcat or other junior teams. Being exposed to top-level talent early on in life can only be a good thing and bring more fans into the game in the long run.
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4) There is still magic in the women’s FA Cup
It is possible for lower league teams to go on a good cup run in women’s football. This season it was Crawley Wasps who beat the odds and ended up taking on Arsenal. Crawley who this season were taking on Suffolk’s own Ipswich Town Women in the FAWNL. With this in mind its important to put our support behind our local teams who could do some similar.
5) Keep investing
Aside from Fa Cup magic we know that money is crucially important in women’s football. Moreover, it is investment both in time and finances that has seen sides progress over the years. In Suffolk that means we have to try and make the most of what we are putting in now and consider what more could be done in the future. Cup finalists West Ham have rocketed up the leagues in recent years because of investment.
6) Make it accessible
As well as keeping prices reasonable what having the FA Cup does at Wembley is provide somewhere that can be accessed by all fans reasonably easily with public transport - or should be. Engineering works closed Euston station making the journey south difficult for some fans. A drop in this year’s attendance to the final could be partly attributed to this, something that was completely out of the FA’s hands. However, the principal of making grounds for these events accessible remains key; whether that be by public transport or with sufficient parking.
7) Keep an eye on the time
Kick-off times for big fixtures are always a matter of debate. This year there were questions asked about the clash between the Cup Final and West Ham’s men’s team fixture. Many fans wanted to go to both but a request to change kick off times failed. Scheduling is key and avoiding other big matches - especially for established men’s teams - is particularly important if you want to attract fans of the team.
8) Be patient
The Fa Cup Final has grown over the years but it has taken years. None of these suggestions can be implicated overnight, nor should they be. However, if time is taken to grow local events and local clubs a benefit can be reaped in the end.
9) Make it memorable
If you manage to achieve most of these things you can make supporters’ days a lot easier, more enjoyable and ultimately more memorable. The key concern for women’s football at the moment is building fanbases and getting supporters coming back time after time. If the event is memorable then they definitely will be returning.