As the nation celebrates women’s football success, Actonians ask Ealing Council for somewhere to play

Image above: Actonians at Wembley on Sunday night

Now can we have a stadium to play in please

Members of the Actonians LFC were at the final on Sunday to watch the England women’s team beat Germany 2-1 at Wembley. Ten years ago they did not imagine it would be possible, Linda Fox, chair of Actonians LFC told The Chiswick Calendar.

“It was amazing. It was very emotional. I didn’t realise I would feel that emotional, but as anyone who has been involved in women’s football knows, it has been a struggle. There aren’t many resources and there hasn’t been much interest in the women’s game but a lot of people have invested their time and energy in women’s football.”

She has seen a phenomenal rise in interest in the women’s game since she started playing in London more than 20 years ago, particularly since 2016. Now she would like to see Ealing Council provide somewhere for them to play where they can welcome spectators.

READ ALSO: Surge in demand for women & girls’ football in run up to Women’s EURO matches

Linda, now 47, grew up in Sweden where there were football teams for younger girls, so she learned to play as a child from the age of nine. When she came to London at the age of 23 there were no teams for girls but there was a women’s team, Chiswick United, formed in 1998 which she joined in 1999.

“We trained on Chiswick Common on uneven ground next to people having picnics, with dogs running around. There were no toilets so you had to remember to go to the loo before you left the house.”

Image above: Actonians; photograph Ying Pan Wu

Now they train at the new facilities at Gunnersbury Park which she says are fantastic and very much in demand. Already the pitches are under pressure from the number of teams wanting to book them at peak times, after work and before it gets too late.

“Ten years ago we started having teams for girls. We have an under nines team and an under 17 team. They start playing aged five.

“There was a big surge in interest in 2016. It was another big tournament I think. We doubled in size from three to six teams and this year again we’ve seen an increase in interest. All age groups want to play, especially women in their 30s who have never played before. We welcome anyone who is interested.

“We have a senior women’s team and beginners’ matches. A big group from the club went to the final at Wembley; there was a real buzz. People have been watching the tournament and thinking about coming back to playing football, realising how much they have missed the camaraderie.”

Image above: Actonians Under tens team

The Actonians play in tier four in the National League, but they have had players who have played internationally. Their main problem is that they have to go quite a long way to play their first team matches. To play at that level they need a stadium that has a dugout and a stand. They need a hospitality room to offer a drink to the opposing team, changing rooms and parking facilities.

The nearest place is Rectory Park in Northolt, which is a bit of a jaunt and means that getting people to go and support them is problematic.

“I have been in talks with Ealing and the FA at County level. The men’s team need it too so we are hoping we will be able to persuade them to give us a stadium, to play in.”

Their first game of the season will be on Sunday 21 August. Tickets are £5 and you can book in advance or pay online. Keep an eye on Twitter @ActoniansLFC and Instagram @actonianslfc for ticket links.

Image above: Actonians Reserves

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