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It's been a while since I've blogged, hasn't it?! I've been debating for a while whether to do a write up on Rovers but my life has been somewhat taken over by something else lately... It's fair to say that things have well and truly taken off in the past 7 months since myself and 11 other female football fans spoke out about our experiences of sexism in football. It feels like the campaign has been going a lot longer than just 7 months. I look back to when I first considered it, when I felt at my lowest after falling victim to a twitter pile-on that resulted in a barrage of misogynistic insults towards me and little to do with the actual football. No one could have convinced my disheartened self that in less than a year down the line, I would have stood up to these trolls by sparking a nationwide campaign to tackle sexism in football and helping other women to feel safe and secure at games. But I did that - and #HerGameToo is thriving.

Back to the beginning...

I'm always someone who strives to turn a negative into a positive. When I found myself feeling like I couldn't go back to football out of fear, that's when I knew something had to change. No one should feel this way and we all deserve to feel safe at stadiums, particularly at our home club. Sexism isn't the only form of discrimination - we have some great movements such as Kick it Out and Rainbow Laces that are tackling racism and homophobia. It's time to add sexism under that umbrella and I knew I could use my personal experience as a fan to help raise awareness of the issue. This was always something I couldn't tackle on my own. I knew there would be plenty of girls I could get on board who have experienced similar to what I have. I only needed to scroll down Twitter for 5 minutes on some days before seeing that another woman had been subjected to sexist abuse online.

I saw several tweets like the one above from Hollie and it helped me to collate a list of strong, outspoken women to be the original faces of the campaign.

I had 10 passionate girls nailed down for the original launch. Lucy, Leah, Eve, Jess, Bobbi, Abbie, Emily, Hollie, Izzy and Caitlin. I was almost settled on those 10 until I came across Amy Clement on my news feed, speaking out about the sexist abuse she received for her football opinions. The abuse she received and still does receive is some of the worst I've seen. It was a no-brainer to reach out and ask if she wanted to be a part of our new campaign. The group chat was set up on May 6th - 9 days before we launched the campaign video. Those 9 days were busy. We wanted to get it right as we only had one chance at it. We needed a strong name for the campaign and we were back and forth with ideas before settling on #HerGameToo. The 'too' is so important to us. This isn't a campaign to take over - we want to stand WITH men. We want to be a part of football and feel welcomed. Let's all support the club together, as one, without any discrimination towards others.

15.05.2021. The launch...

We were unsure of the best day to launch the campaign. It needed to be impactful and timing was crucial. We considered perhaps during the Euros or at the start of the 21/22 season. It was only when the BBC released an article on sexist abuse within football that we realised the time is now. It was such a hot topic and we wanted to capitalise on that. We teased the idea of #HerGameToo on our social channels before launching the campaign video at 10am on FA Cup Final day.

I remember staying up late on May 14th, finalising & tweaking the campaign video. I also spent time setting up the @hergametoo social accounts to make sure we were ready. I was a mixture of excited and nervous. I had no idea what the reaction was going to be and if we were even going to be taken seriously. It was at this moment, I was glad I wasn't doing this on my own...

Saturday 15th May at 10am it was posted and out there. The immediate response was incredible. Within 1 minute we had 100 retweets and my phone wouldn't stop buzzing. It was seriously amazing to see the support flooding in and just how many women felt like they could resonate with us. We gained 6,000 followers on the Twitter page and hit 1 million views within the first 24 hours of launching. We also received tweets of support from several professional football clubs, the EFL and from women we look up to such as Laura Woods and Michelle Owen. It was an overwhelming 24 hours. We are so grateful to everyone who supported and shared.

How it's going...

7 months since the launch and it has been fairly non-stop. We get dozens of emails and messages a day. Many of our evenings and lunch hours are spent in HerGameToo meetings. We all work full-time, so in order to keep the fire burning for HerGameToo we have to work around those hours. It can be tiring and I've had many meltdowns but what we have achieved so far is so rewarding. I wouldn't change it for the world. One of our biggest achievements to date is getting the recognition and support from Everton. They announced our partnership on Boxing Day - which was the 101st anniversary of the Ladies’ fixture at Goodison Park that attracted a crowd of more than 53,000. With this back story, it was so fitting that Everton became our first Premier League club partnership.

We are now partnered with around 70-80 professional clubs, grassroots clubs and organisations - with many more partnerships to form. We have both men & women reaching out to report sexism at football stadiums and our partnered clubs are listening to us. Many clubs have implemented a new reporting system and any clubs who had them already in place are making sure the fans know that sexism won't be tolerated and football is a safe space for everyone. This is something that didn't even exist 8 months ago.

We know there are a few people out there who don't like what we are doing. We have had many abusive messages off the back of launching this campaign - but the positivity always outweighs the negativity. Despite the trolls, we will keep fighting the good fight. We have plenty more to come and we are so excited to progress. The support we've had has been so amazing and we thank every single one of you who has supported us. Let's continue to make football a safer space for all and kick out discrimination for good. Thank you for reading!


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