Football clubs have celebrated International Women’s Day, with one releasing a new suffragette-inspired jersey and another sporting a bespoke training kit to pay tribute to their mothers, grandmothers and even tennis star Serena Williams.
FC United of Manchester women’s team will wear an away kit next season inspired by the purple, green and white sashes worn by the suffragette movement in the early 20th century.
FC United launched the away kit – a first for its women’s team – on Wednesday to coincide with International Women’s Day. This year also marks the 120th anniversary of Emmeline Pankhurst founding the Women’s Social and Political Union in Manchester.
The union was an independent, all-women group committed to ‘deeds, not words’, and played a major role in persuading the UK Parliament to give women the right to vote.
FC United’s thunder was easily stolen by neighbors Manchester City on Friday, who announced a one-off suffragette-inspired kit. Her women’s Super League team wore the shirt against Tottenham on Sunday, while the men’s team wore it in Saturday’s warm-up and elimination against Newcastle United.
But FC United, founded by Manchester United fans who opposed Malcolm Glazer’s takeover in 2005, have been planning their kit for months and are happy to share an idea and design as good as this one – even if it is with City is.
FC United Chief Executive Natalie Atkinson said: “This is a first for FC United that our women’s team will have their own unique kit and it feels even more special that the design of the kit reflects the contributions and success of recognized women in sport and in society over the last century.”
The team will continue to wear the club’s traditional red jersey at home as they aim for a return to the fourth tier of women’s football in England.
They are currently second in the North West Women’s Regional League, a point behind the lead, with three games in hand. Designed by New Balance, the jersey is available to pre-order from the club shop, with a portion of profits going to Manchester Women’s Aid.
“Me and the rest of the girls are thrilled to be wearing our own jersey next season,” said captain Kirsty Chambers. “We love what the shirt represents – it’s all about women’s empowerment and we’ve chosen the charity Manchester Women’s Aid to support women and children affected by domestic and sexual violence.”
FC United, now in its 18th season, is one of the largest fan-owned clubs in the country, with all members owning a stake in the club and having equal voting rights – something women in Britain did not achieve until 1928.
Premier League club West Ham, meanwhile, wore tailored training tops ahead of Thursday’s UEFA Europa Conference League round of 16 first leg against AEK Larnaca.
Fifteen members of the squad, including captain Declan Rice, Nayef Aguerd and Pablo Fornals, paid tribute to their mothers, while Michail Antonio welcomed 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams as his inspirational figure.
Rice said: “I have chosen to put my mother’s name on the back of my jersey for training to show my appreciation for all the time and effort she put into helping my two brothers and I to become the men we are today. We will all be forever grateful to her.”
Antonio added: “I could have picked several inspirational women, but I ended up choosing Serena Williams as the name on my workout t-shirt. Arguably the greatest tennis player of her generation, Serena really showed what can be achieved if you put your mind to it and believe in yourself.”
International Women’s Day on March 8 marks the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women while seeking to accelerate the push for gender equality.
(Photo: West Ham United FC)