Solidarity Soccer is our innovative community based football training initiative for women which has empowerment, skill sharing and a personalised approach shaping it. We have a session running at Hillsborough College, a session based at Concord Sports Centre and another session at Meadowhead School, running weekly – we have plans to expand the initiative into more areas and engage more women in the sport in a unique way.
We spoke to regular Solidarity Soccer attendee Becky Rayner about her experiences of Solidarity Soccer, and what kind of impact it has had on and off the pitch – Becky has won the Teamwork Digital Award and has recently become part of the AFC Unity 11-a-side team after getting back into and reconnecting with the sport via Solidarity Soccer!
AFC Unity: In a few words, how would you describe Solidarity Soccer to someone who hasn’t been?
Becky: It’s an innovative football programme that engages women of all abilities. The sessions focus on specific skills each month so that players can develop and learn new skills. It’s non committal and very fun and brings the community together.
AFC Unity: What would you say to someone who hasn’t been to Solidarity Soccer if you wanted them to come along?
Becky: Come along and give it a go – the welcoming atmosphere makes you feel part of the Unity family regardless of ability. These sessions bring back what football is all about – teamwork, development, fun, positivity and friendships.
AFC Unity: Do you have any stories that stand out from your time of being involved in Solidarity Soccer?
Becky: What stands out for me is the fact that Solidarity has reminded me why I fell in love with the sport to begin with. Also the encouragement from everyone to join the 11-a-side team was really overwhelming and inspiring. It’s a decision I have not looked back at.
AFC Unity: Has Solidarity Soccer had an impact on your outside football life?
Becky: Solidarity has given me a work life balance.
AFC Unity: Has Solidarity Soccer helped you with 11-a-side football at all?
Becky: Absolutely – Solidarity was the foundation for me to progress into 11-a-side football. It also set a precedent about the club i.e the ethos and values. You cannot win a game with 11 individuals. You can only win as one team, united under a common purpose, drive and passion.
AFC Unity: If you could pick one word to describe Solidarity Soccer what would it be?
AFC Unity: Anything else to add?
Becky: I have lots of positive memories but if I was pushed to pick one it would be my first 11-a-side match against Mexborough. Even though we lost the team stuck together and gave everything until the end. #UNITY