100 years after women's votes the tide is turning with sport in Hackney
PUBLISHED: 12:30 08 February 2018
Mabley Green's Super 5 Football League is going from strength to strength
In a week where we celebrate the 100th anniversary of some women getting the vote in Britain, it is refreshing to see a story of women’s sporting success in the area.
Formed last year with only four teams, the Super 5 Football League will kick off their third season of action with two divisions and 16 teams.
The whole thing is the brainchild of Shahid Malji, known to everyone as ‘Shazza’ who founded the ladies league.
“I was already running a men’s league down at Mabley Green in Hackney when I saw some women playing in the corner,” he said.
“They had nowhere to play and when they found out I organised a men’s league, they just asked ‘can you do the same for us?’
“Since then, it has really taken off. I have such a passion for the women’s game and I think it has so much potential.”
Last Monday saw the second season come to an end with a presentation night at the Adam & Eve pub in Homerton Road.
Champions Peter Cech Yourself retained their title, with Bake Off star Liam Charles there to present the medals alongside Chelsea footballer Anita Asante, who has played the game in the US and Sweden as well as here.
“We want everyone who plays to develop as footballers and there are always plenty of medals to give out,” said Shazza. “We have teams on very different levels, but every one of them has a chance to get a trophy of some sort.”
A case in point is Leon FC, who have just won their first trophy after starting as beginners.
“It is great to see their improvement,” said Shazza. “When they started, they were getting mullered, and then the defeats would be by less, before they won their final last week.
“There is a social side to the league as well. Some of the players visited a homeless shelter at Christmas, while they also go out together,” concluded Shazza, who ironically works in the Anti-Social Behaviour department at Hackney Council!
Women in sport has certainly been on the agenda in the last couple of weeks with the decision to stop the darts walk-on girls as well as the F1 grid girls.
So is women’s sport now being taken seriously at long last?
Tricia Lewis, who plays in the league with Romance FC, certainly thinks so.
“I think more and more females are getting involved in sport and it is great to see,” she said.
“It is important to have role models. Before we would see youngsters with perhaps Kelly Smith’s name on the back of their shirts, but there are so many more stars out there now.
“The England women’s football team have got such great publicity for their efforts and what was important was that they were a team. Even when they went out of competitions, they took it so well and they stuck together and that is important for women,” she said. “The cricket and hockey teams have also been brilliant.”
Tricia continued: “If anyone is thinking of coming down and having a go at football, then go for it. There are teams of all levels, from complete beginners upwards and the pitches are excellent.
“It would be great if we could get leagues going all over the place.
“Before, we had to play in dingy school halls because we could not get anything else, now at last, we have great facilities.”
The league starts again on February 12 with the Premier League on Monday nights and Division One on Wednesdays. Both start at 7pm.
As well as that, Romance FC are celebrating #Vote100 with an afternoon of five-a-side games and beginner sessions on March 10.
Shazza is concentrating on expanding this blossoming women’s league.
“The AFA recreational officer Samantha Brown, who came to our finals night, was very impressed with how much the league has grown and is looking forward to helping to support and develop the league,” he said.
The men’s league sponsors are Finefair and their spokesman, Rizwan Pirbhal, is keen to get on board with the women.
“What a great initiative and if we can support it, we certainly will,” he said.
The league are also starting a super beginners league on Thursday evenings from March. Anyone interested should email email@example.com.
Women are not there yet, even 100 years on since getting the vote. You only have to look at equal pay, the president’s club scandal and so many allegations of sexual harassment.
But back in Mabley Green, things are moving apace in the world of football for women and the people of Hackney can be rightly proud of that.