York will host the BUCS Women’s Football Week festival, an event that will celebrate women’s football and aim to gain a wider awareness of the sport among girls as well as raising awareness for BUCS charity Marie Curie.
While the success of the club has influenced the decision for York to host the event, with the 1st team currently unbeaten and the 2nd team settling into their first season in BUCS, it was the work of Club President Ellie Whittaker that played a large part, whose work with Marie Curie hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“I got involved with Marie Curie and got in touch with them because BUCS chose them as their charity partner for the next two years, which means they do all sorts of nationwide initiatives to raise money for Marie Curie”.
The charity, which provides nurses to help patients and families who are suffering from cancer, has become close to Ellie, having been affected by the disease and their help to her and her family has made her want to raise awareness for the work they do.
“They treat people who have got terminal illnesses in the later stage of life and because my nan, cousin and uncle died of cancer, I found out about all that through that experience. I wanted to give something back through Race for Life for Cancer Research, and we got involved with Marie Curie because it’s the BUCS charity as well.”
In addition to raising money for Marie Curie, Ellie was keen to help with another of BUCS’ aims – to improve the popularity of women’s football.
“Because there’s always a push on women’s football, one of BUCS’ initiatives was the Women’s Football week. If they get 3000 participants playing, coaching, refereeing and volunteering in sport, they’ll donate £1000 to Marie Curie. We got approached by the FA and BUCS to be involved.
“They told us what’s going on this year and asked if we want to get involved. Because it was for Marie Curie, I thought I’d find out a bit more. I got talking to Prathiv [Kholia], the BUCS football director, who I’m meeting with next week.
“He said he’s impressed by York and everything I’ve been doing and the way everyone’s got involved, with all levels of sport, on the performance side and participation side. He asked, because we’ve done so well, and because we’ve engaged with Marie Curie, would we like to run a nationwide event? And we were like yeah!”
The event will take place on Friday 6 March, with BUCS, the FA and Deloitte all expected to be present, while Marie Curie will be represented with a cheque if the BUCS target is met. “It’s going to be a massive do because we’re not a massive sport at the uni, although we’re getting there, and we’re not really renowned for football yet so it’s pretty major that we’ve been chosen over Loughborough and Leeds Met. They’re trying to get some of the England and WSL players down as well”.
Representation from the FA and England will likely boost the popularity of the sport. Ellie and Vice President Melissa Turner have been hard at work getting more girls involved at York, with the Club having their biggest number of sign-ups at Freshers’ Week this year.
“I think it’s down to the infrastructure we’ve put in this season. Mel and I knew what we wanted to achieve, which was to bring the club on and make it more well-known. We got focus sport which has helped, as have the new coaches. I couldn’t have asked for a better committee to work with. They’re so hard working and committed so it’s down to them really”.
The news is a great reward to Ellie and all her committee for the success the club has had so far this year. “I can’t really believe how well it’s going!” A great repayment for their enthusiasm in using sport to raise funds for a cause close to many people’s hearts.