All-female grounds team for WSL north London derby

Tara Sandford and Bobbie Murphy - Arsenal grounds staff

Our Barclays Women's Super League clash with Tottenham Hotspur on March 3 will make history as the first WSL fixture to have an all-female grounds team.

With over 50,000 tickets already sold for the match, this landmark moment will mark a significant milestone for women’s sport and the role of women in making sport possible.

In the months leading up to the north London derby, we have collaborated with the WSL, Women in Football and the Grounds Management Association [GMA] to select 13 female grounds professionals for the fixture. This will shine a spotlight on the vital contribution of women to sport, alongside encouraging more to consider roles in grounds management.

Two of the trailblazing group – Arsenal groundstaff Bobbie Murphy and Tara Sandford – will kick off proceedings by working at our Premier League fixture against Newcastle United on Saturday.

Despite an uplift of women playing sport across all levels, only 2 per cent of the grounds management sector, which is responsible for maintaining the nation’s pitches, is female.

The 13 women involved come from different venues across a variety of sporting and educational facilities and will be led by Sandford.

"Being a part of the first all-women grounds team to prepare a Women’s Super League match has been hugely exciting for me on both a personal and professional level," she said, reflecting on the initiative. 

“The consistent level of support we have seen for our women's team this season shows how much the game continues to grow, and it's important that we harness this to encourage more girls to pursue a career in football. 

“I hope our all-female grounds team showcases the different opportunities that exist within football and inspires more women to get into the game." 

The group will consist of: 

  • Alexia Doughty (Apprentice Groundsperson at Stratford Sports Club)
  • Beth Gibbs (Groundsperson at Wellington School)
  • Bobbie Murphy (Apprentice Groundsperson at Arsenal Football Club)
  • Carlie Lambert (Apprentice Groundsperson for Worcestershire County Cricket Club)
  • Emily Geach (Volunteer Groundsperson ay Boconnoc Cricket Club and Tormarton Cricket Club)
  • Georgie Grimes (Groundsperson for The FA at St George’s Park)
  • Jasmine Nicholls (Groundsperson for Yorkshire County Cricket Club)
  • Liddy Ford (Groundsperson for The FA at St George’s Park)
  • Meg Lay (Groundsperson at Lord’s, Marylebone Cricket Club)
  • Phoebe Taylorson (Apprentice Groundperson at Middlesbrough Football Club)
  • Rachel Hunter-Worrall (Groundperson at Queen Ethelburga’s School in York)
  • Zibby Parker (Part-time Groundsperson at Ipswich Town FC and Essex County Cricket Club)

Nikki Doucet, Chief Executive Officer of the Barclays Women’s Super League and Barclays Women’s Championship, said: “The Women’s Professional Game and Football Association are very proud to be a part of this showcase event, bringing some of the brightest talents working within our industry and beyond deservedly to the fore.

Geoff Webb, CEO of the Grounds Management Association, added: "Groundstaff are essential in making sport possible, and, without them, we simply wouldn’t have the pitches we need for our nation’s enjoyment of sport. 

“Research shows that women make up a small percentage of the number of grounds staff we have working in the sector and so, if we want to provide more pitches to keep up with the increased demand for grass playing surfaces, we need more women to enter the sector.

“We’re delighted to see some exceptional examples of women working in the sector celebrated at such an important fixture in the Barclays WSL calendar."

With the event being a landmark moment for women’s sport, and taking place just ahead of International Women’s Day, Yvonne Harrison, CEO of Women in Football, said: "Football couldn't exist without a pitch to play on, and the game as we know and love it depends on the vital contributions made by women in every area.

"So today and every day, let's celebrate the female workforce in football and right across our sporting ecosystem, starting right here with the 13 talented groundspeople laying the foundations for a massive fixture in the Barclays Women's Super League."

As well as the grounds team and an all-female police presence, we will also have all-female technical staff for the fixture. Our team will work to ensure all matchday technology operations run smoothly, the stadium infrastructure is monitored, and retail and hospitality systems are maintained. 

Joceline Daves, our Technology Service Manager who will be leading the team on March 3, said: "Our women's team are trailblazers, so being able to contribute to such a special occasion while making history ourselves is a very proud moment for the Arsenal Technology team and all women in the technology industry."

The match takes place on Sunday, March 3 at Emirates Stadium, kicking off at 12.30pm, and will be broadcast live on BBC One.

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