Ebru Köksal and Joyce Cook, OBE, were amongst a distinguished lineup of attendees as Women in Football (WiF) held their first awards ceremony celebrating the achievements of women in the world of sports. Women are still underrepresented in nearly every aspect of sport, and the event served as a celebration of female trailblazers in football.
Renowned sports broadcaster Jacqui Oatley hosted the noteworthy event, before chairing a panel that discussed what football can learn from the financial world.
Held during the WiF’s annual seasonal event in the glitzy Barclays building in Canary Wharf, the awards marked the end of a tumultuous year for women in the typically male-dominated football sector.
Emma Hayes, Chelsea Ladies’ manager, received the Achievement Award for her work with the London club. This year saw the Ladies win their first ever FA Women’s Cup, as well as coming first in the FA Women’s Super League.
“I’ll be walking around the Chelsea training ground, overlooking the players training, and occasionally I’ll ask Jose if he’s ok,” she joked.
Three of Hayes’ Chelsea players, also members of the England Women national team, were in attendance. The Lionesses came third in this summer’s World Cup in Canada, a first for the team.
The players, Claire Rafferty, Katie Chapman and Eniola Aluko, accepted the Inspirational Women of the Year Award on behalf of the team to raucous applause.
— Claire Rafferty (@clrafferty1) December 7, 2015
Ann Budge, owner of the Edinburgh-based club Hearts, and Heather Rabbatts, who spoke out in defence of Eva Carneiro, both won awards for their respective efforts in 2015. Neither was able to attend, though Budge sent in an acceptance speech by video, despite suffering from a bout of laryngitis.
Since Budge took over the board of the near-bankrupt Hearts, the team has been transformed, managing to win the league in their first season. Oatley was quick to remind the audience that Sir Alex Ferguson had praised Budge for the “incredible” achievement.
The Lifetime Achievement Award, perhaps the most anticipated of the night, went to former football agent Rachel Anderson. She praised WiF for their drive and perseverance; “The WiF’s are the ones who deserve this. Without them, most women in football wouldn’t be here.”
“It is an ongoing fight. Guys don’t dismiss me like they used to, because they know I’ll go for them.”
Founded to challenge discrimination and lobby for change on behalf of women, WiF are a network of professional women who aim to support their peers at all levels of the game. The issue of representation is what drives the majority of their work.
— Jacqui Oatley (@JacquiOatley) December 7, 2015
Main Photo: Flickr.com/proacguy1