The artwork will explore craft and collectivism within women's football with a focus on feminism both historically in terms of the suffragettes and now in terms of equality within sports and how that can influence the wider world. Ultimately the work will explore how women’s football has been a feminist act since its birth and ask questions about what new roles it is playing now in terms of equality that go wider than gender.
Kick Off will consist of us working with 2 local young female football teams (14-16) and other local women over a period of 20 weeks, at 2 National Trust Sites (Souter and the Leas, Sunderland and Osterley House and Park, London). During weekly workshops we will be co-creating the teams visual and aural language, asking the women and young girls what impassions them and what they stand for. We’ll collaboratively design the teams scarves, chants (a form of empowering spoken word!), the football used, and regional pies with local expert creatives. After all of these sessions, we will host 2 free Home & Away matches in the summer. These matches, which will be relational public events will bring together the north and south, will be for those who took part, fans, family, friends and the wider public. Scarves are waved, chants will be shouted (and taught prior to the match), and pies will be eaten as the public are united for 90 minutes of football.
Where did this project come from?
We developed the idea when we started researching the history of female football during WW1 and the connections with the suffragette movement, in relation to the National Trust site of Souter.
"Football has been hand in hand with women's struggle for equality for hundreds of years. How women's teams used it to further their suffrage cause in the 1800-1900s and how even now, space and platforming for women's football highlights how women still face so many barriers and challenges in modern society.”
Playwright Sabriana Mahfouz
Community is at the heart of both social practice art and football, so we began to look at history and contemporary issues, such as gender equality in sport ( we are still fighting for this), and female empowerment, through the language of football, craft and collectivism.
Why is this Kick Off important now?
We still need to fight for equality in sports. Kick Off will challenge the dire statistics for women and children engaged in sports. Only 8% of girls get the recommended exercise they need, and 1.5 million more men than women play sports each week. In 2018 Ada Hegerberg, the first female footballer to win the prestigious Ballon d’Or award was asked by the presenter if she ‘knew how to twerk’.
Kick Off uses football as a powerful vehicle and accessible entry point to engage with wider issues of equality, inclusivity and health and has the potential to stimulate social change. The impact of being in a team and engaging with creative action will have profound effects on all those participating.
Kick Off is publically funded by the Arts Council England.