Be Our Club Sponsor for the Next Two Years!

AFC Unity is an indie women’s football club based in Sheffield and we are currently looking for a club sponsor for the next two years! We’ve been on ITV News, Hallam FM and more for all the community good we do by being more than just a football club.  AsFeaturedIn

We have two 11-a-side women’s teams playing in the local Sheffield and Hallamshire Women’s County Football League, an expanding Solidarity Soccer initiative providing innovative football training sessions for women that are new to the sport or wanting to get back into it, and run community programmes and projects such as our Football for Food campaign where we are collecting food at our home games and club events to then distribute to Sheffield food banks via the Sheffield Food Collective.

As a club we envision a society where the football club plays an active role in its community, engaging and empowering women as positive role models, and using the sport to encourage unity and solidarity.

Please email us at afcunity [at] gmail [dot] com for more details and a sponsorship package that provides more information about the club programmes, activities and projects we are running and also the benefits club sponsorship would provide a sponsor and the different ways we can engage a sponsor in the expansive and ever-growing activities of Sheffield’s indie women’s football club.

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Up the Left Wing

by Jay Baker

UpTheLeftWingI haven’t made an entry into this column since the last season ended, but suffice to say I was very pleased with what was a mission accomplished after we set out to consolidate in the Second Division.

After a pre-season of shakeups in the way we trained, and the newly-set target of holding our own in Division Two, the nerves took over for our opening league game at Rotherham United Development, where we were already losing 4-0 by half time – a regroup needed in the break to score a goal and concede one in the steady second half, for a 5-1 result.

We responded well the week after at home, beating New Bohemians 6-0, before losing to Shaw Lane Aquaforce 6-2 at theirs, incapable of dealing with their tried-and-tested tactics and seeing them take the top spot in the table, undefeated.

Being 3-2 down by half time at former Division One side Edlington Royals, we felt we really had a chance to take the win, but an unregistered referee and horrific two-footed tackle on Charlotte Marshall that made her miss most of the season rattled the whole team, and we lost 4-2.

The team remained rattled for some time, and we lost 7-2 at Mexborough Athletic who, despite playing the best football we’d seen at that point, admitted ‘something wasn’t right’ about Unity. My coach and I felt we fixed it in training the following day, and felt much more confident about the next game, at home to undefeated league leaders Shaw Lane Aquaforce, who we beat 3-2 by playing to our system in a disciplined manner, where everyone had their part to play, and did so very well. Later that month, we took Mexborough to the limit at home, winning 6-5 in another thriller.

Trailing 2-1 at half time at AFC Dronfield, who had taken the top spot in Division Two and won every single match, we remained confident of further “scalps” as league underdogs, but lost 4-2 in a close game, and were beating them 2-1 in the return fixture when a lack of concentration made us concede the equalizer in added time, albeit becoming the first team in the division to stop their winning streak. In between those two matches, we beat Sheffield Wednesday Development 3-2 at home despite losing 1-0 at half time. We remained unbeaten in home league games for over a year as a result.

That record was broken with relish by Rotherham United Development, who beat us 6-0 when a fragile formation fell apart because a key individual refused to be a team player, presented a host of headaches for the players, and was eventually ousted. This was the opposite of the win over Shaw Lane, where team harmony beat the odds, and this trauma caused to the team meant it took a 3-0 home defeat to Edlington Royals for them all to resettle and enjoy their football again, which we did, winning the last two games 13-1 and 9-1 to guarantee the mid-table finish we needed, and deserved. Granted, teams were struggling for numbers by this point despite being backed by significantly-sized men’s clubs, and we certainly shouldn’t ever apologise – or be penalised – for valuing women’s football and engaging high numbers. Our opponents get penalised by losing, as it should be.

“Unity” isn’t just a word. When you have players out for themselves, upsetting half a dozen teammates, we deal with them. Grassroots football is too often about “survival of the fittest,” with players bullying others or being bullied themselves; teams driven down to the lowest common denominator – a horrible culture I reject and one this club rejects, and as a result we go to great pains to get rid of rotten apples before they spoil the barrel.

We have to keep an environment of positivity. Negative personalities thrive off negative dialogue and slanging matches, making scenes on the training ground, and I reject that. I will never engage in negativity that my team must be subjected to, and everyone who runs AFC Unity understands, appreciates and values that. Players value that too, and that’s why, despite being one of the very few clubs in the country exclusively dedicated to women’s football, we have such high retention rates.

REVOLUTIONAsk any of our players – especially ones who have experienced the pain of playing for other clubs just about football and nothing else – and they’ll tell you what a positive environment we have. Our end-of-season Awards Night was a fantastic celebration of this, where I reiterated the sentiment that when you’re only about winning, on those occasions you lose, you have nothing left. That’s why we keep smiling even when we lose. We’re unstoppable. We keep going. Unity always goes on, win lose or draw. That’s why what we’re doing is a women’s football revolution.

As we look towards next season, we have a better way to keep up with our high demand with the introduction of a second team, the AFC Unity Jets (who are not “reserves,” as some clubs like to call them). This provides a clearer line between competitive ambition and a fun chance to play 11-a-side league football.

The AFC Unity Jets will enter into Division Three, with the first team remaining in a Division Two which will endure an influx of top teams deserving of higher status but forced to climb the ranks of the leagues – this will make it harder for the first team, but I look forward to this next challenge, and at the same time am excited for the AFC Unity Jets to take off on their own experiences!

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone involved in AFC Unity, from my co-founder Jane Watkinson, to the Board of Directors, and newly-appointed Director of Football Sarah Richards, to the players, coaches and volunteers, for everything they put into this fast-expanding organisation that is utilising the power of football to do so much good for people.

¡Viva la Revolución!

– “Jay Guevara”

The AFC Unity Scarf Contest Open for Submissions!

We’re proud to announce the opening of the AFC Unity scarf contest – which will run until the start of the season in September!

Got an official AFC Unity scarf? We want you to send us your photos brandishing it!

It might be by the sea, up a tower – or even jumping out of a plane (with a parachute, please!) Or it may simply be a heartwarming photo of you and your friends while you’re wearing our scarf.

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We’ll include all submissions on our Facebook page to see which image people like the most!

The winner will receive an exclusive signed copy of Carrie Dunn’s book, Roar of the Lionesses: Women’s Football in England!

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Grab your scarf here or get in touch!