AFC Unity is a multi-award winning independent women’s football club based in Sheffield, providing opportunities for both beginner-level and advanced female footballers in our exciting, high-energy, positive playing style, while utilising the sport for positive social change and remaining linked to – and active in – the local community.
One of the few of its kind to have been created as a women’s team without being supported by a pre-existing men’s team, AFC Unity was founded by Jay Baker and Jane Watkinson in 2014 in the birthplace of association football itself – Sheffield – as an alternative football club to utilise their dedication to feminism and social justice in combination with their passion for the sport to make a positive contribution in the local community. Both have extensive experience in the community sector, running numerous projects in South Yorkshire for several years.
A Fuse Sheffield voucher scheme and the Satellite Programme have helped AFC Unity incorporate into a social enterprise, Company Limited by Guarantee (Registered Number: 9649719). This will help us with raising funding and ensuring a sustainable development and growth. As of the 3rd of September 2015, the club achieved The FA Charter Standard Adult Club status and were awarded the 2015/2016 FA Club Respect Award, took Bronze in Sports England’s Satellite Club of the Year Awards, and were runners-up in the Most Innovative Organisation category at the VAS Make a Difference Awards.
The club name harks back to the original term Assoc. Football (or “soccer” for short), as an association football club, but in this case actually stands for Alternative Football Club, adopting the colour red as a homage to Sheffield’s historic Sheffield FC, the world’s oldest club, as well as the surrounding South Yorkshire towns of Barnsley, Doncaster, and Rotherham, whose teams also play in red. “Unity” speaks for itself: it represents the ethos of the club as utilising the unifying power of the sport.
Mission statement: AFC Unity is an alternative football club for women, focused on bringing the game back to its grass-roots as a uniting force, bringing people together for the love of the game beyond vested interests and the influence of profit. AFC Unity focuses on women, as they have been historically excluded, and aims to produce and promote positive role models.
Vision: AFC Unity 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, solidarity, and social cohesion.
- Empowering women – by engaging women in football and encouraging development – regardless of background, experience or ability – and by presenting positive female role models, working with the community
- Tackling misconceptions – by challenging sexism and preconceived notions around areas such as gender, sexuality, race, religion, and age, and promoting women’s football as a grassroots sport dedicated to the non-profit ethos
- Promoting social justice – by using football as a tool to bring communities together, developing a positive ethos and identity for the club
- Opposing oppression – by empowering women to challenge the sport’s image as a man’s game, engage in community activities, fundraising for good causes, and campaigning on important issues
- An 11-a-side team that competes in the Sheffield & Hallamshire Women’s County Football League
- Solidarity Soccer sessions for women of all levels of experience
- Community projects that utilise football to break down divisions in society
- Volunteering programmes for those interested in coaching, sports physiotherapy, sports psychology, sports journalism, and fundraising