Olivia Murray – Chair
First and foremost, Olivia Murray is a player at heart, with football and sport in general a massive passion in her life. However, due to injury, she had to take a back seat longer than expected, and she says AFC Unity have given her a new lease of life, first as an FA Level 1 qualified coach, then Director of Football, and now as Chair of the Board of Directors. Olivia feels the key to club’s ethos is playing with respect within the club, amongst the team, but extending that to others outside the club as well. Football, she says, is all about having the correct attitude and heart.
Anna Cordwell – Treasurer
Having been raised in the football tradition by the females of the family, Anna Cordwell started watching Sheffield United FC with her mum and sister when she was in primary school. While not being remotely athletic, she enjoys watching sports, with a particular soft spot for football, and is passionate about their ability to bring people together. As someone with a strong belief in equal opportunities and the celebration of diversity, Anna was thrilled to have the opportunity to be involved with AFC Unity, challenging the perception of football as a purely men’s sport and promoting an inclusive, community spirit.
Charlotte Marshall – Director
Charlotte has a real passion and love for football. She is a player for the club and has played within teams since the age of 9, having played for several teams with her longest time at Sheffield United Junior Blades. She also played for her school team, Birley Community College, who came second in the Nationals, and through this she was scouted for the Sheffield United Centre of Excellence. Charlotte is studying English Language at Sheffield Hallam University and came across AFC Unity through Venture Matrix; she found a placement within the club to assist in numerous roles, after which she then also decided to transfer from her old club Socrates to also play for AFC Unity. Charlotte has now also been voted onto the Board of Directors for the club and has some exciting projects lined up for the future to get stuck into.
Jane Watkinson – Co-founder and Secretary
Jane is involved in running the club behind the scenes, helping with administration, research, evaluation and fundraising for on the pitch and also off the pitch activities including our community work and projects. Jane is also the first team Captain and a qualified Level 1 FA Coach. Jane has played football all her life, for several teams – including Sheffield United Community Foundation, Meadowhead School and also had a spell at the Centre of Excellence. Jane has worked in the community sector for several years, utilising her BA in Sociology and MA in Politics with Research Methods, driven by the desire to help with creating a more inclusive, equal and fairer society, especially with historically disadvantaged and marginalised areas and groups. For Jane, AFC Unity is a merging of these two passions, playing and promoting women’s football and helping create an alternative football club that makes a difference in society through furthering social justice and creating positive female role models. She also plans and coaches the Solidarity Soccer initiative, channeling her enthusiasm for skill-sharing and confidence-building.
Jay Baker – Co-founder and Manager
Jay Baker has been managing non-profit organisations for nearly 15 years and is a Fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs, has a Level 2 Certificate in Managing Voluntary and Community Organisations, a Level 3 Award in Education and Training (QCF), and is Youth Work Skills Level 2 and FA Level 1 Coaching qualified. Born in Doncaster, he grew up supporting Doncaster Rovers Belles and Doncaster Rovers, where he became a director of the Viking Supporters Cooperative, and is passionate about football’s roots in its community. As Manager of AFC Unity, he not only oversees the club’s Business & Development Plan and project activities, but also the team and its strategies. He has devised the club’s Football Philosophy and, drawing on his experience in the community sector, pushed through a completely different approach to coaching befitting the alternative ethos of AFC Unity, whose incredible third place finish in Division Three in their first-ever season – and then consolidation in Division Two – exceeded the wildest expectations. A champion of the underdog, Jay’s commitment to feminism, fair play, community spirit and camaraderie cross over into his managerial approach and he has relished the challenge of building a club, and team, from the ground up.
Eleanor Hopewell – Sports Physio Volunteer
Eleanor Hopewell is 19 years old and studying Physiotherapy at Sheffield Hallam University. She has achieved her Level 2 Fitness Award through her first year there and is in the process of becoming Level 3 qualified. Playing football competitively since a young age, this role has allowed her to gain experience in another side of a sport she is passionate about. She has taken advantage of the Solidarity Soccer initiative which has enabled her to continue to play football and also volunteer alongside it! She hopes to bring an enthusiastic approach to injury prevention, which includes players of all abilities, to facilitate each individual getting the most out of their personal goals. Alongside with AFC Unity’s ethos, Eleanor hopes she can encourage more women to become involved with football locally and also be a part of promoting women’s football nationally.
Eliah Ward – Community Outreach
Eliah has played football for schools and youth teams from a young age and joined AFC Unity as a way of returning to football after university. Coming from a Human Geography background, with an MSc in Social and Spatial Analysis focusing on social inequalities, they have harboured a keen passion over the years for left-wing politics, social justice, feminism, fighting stereotypes, and combating oppression. Eliah has a strong volunteer history in relation to marginalized and disadvantaged groups – poverty and homelessness in particular, both locally and elsewhere in the North. They are excited about engaging the club in wider societal issues and the local community in order to foster social change, and connecting with like-minded groups to explore how football can be an active and positive force for good.
Theo Minards – Football for Food Volunteer
Theo Minards is a 21 year old Politics graduate who his currently studying for his Masters in Politics at the University of Sheffield. For him, AFC Unity stood out as an exciting opportunity to get involved in a project that combines two things that are very important to him: social justice and football. Whilst only just starting, he is looking forward to using football as a way of tackling Sheffield’s issue of food poverty. The roles he will be taking on include helping plan and coordinate events, writing about and promoting events, and even undertaking research on food poverty in Sheffield.