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Arsenal Women F.C.

Mrs Bergkamp

Double Dusted
Dusted 🔻
Arsenal Ladies have always been excellent. Man City especially have thrown tons of money in that direction to catch up and overtake us. I remember them winning the Quad and wishing the men's team could do half as much.

James Bond

Moderation Consultant
Couldn't find thread on them sorry if I missed it

Here's an article on our girls team playing against Watford Boys team

Read the article the other day and wanted to share it with the forum but didn't know where to put it. Thanks for making a thread a posting the article.

Lots a negativity around due to the men's team, but the Arsenal ladies senior and youth sides are doing great things.

rich 1990

Not A Big Believer In Diversity
It might be taken more seriously when a team on a 27 game unbeaten run doesn't have it ended by losing 10-0.


The Terminator

‘Woman on!’ Arsenal’s girls benefiting from mixing it with the boys

Arsenal Ladies’ under-10s and under-12s are in a league with boys from this season and an afternoon watching the younger age group reveals an environment which is helping the females to achieve their potential

Amy Lawrence
Friday 24 March 2017 12.09 GMT

If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, nobody told a bunch of girls and boys who spent their Sunday afternoon engaged in a highly skilled and hotly competed game of football. It is important to stress that this was not mixed football, but a contest that pitted boys against girls at under-10 level. It is part of a new initiative that has been introduced by the Football Association this season which permits girls teams to enrol in boys’ grassroots leagues.

Strange? Awkward? Complicated? Not remotely once the match kicked off. The beauty of this enterprise is that if there were any extra butterflies or surges of determination based on gender stereotyping, it all melted away with the referee’s whistle. With the kick-off, the entire focus for two seven-a-side teams was the game itself. Perhaps the only unusual moment was when one of the boys spontaneously yelled “woman on” to warn one of his team-mates that an opponent was rushing in. Not his usual vernacular but it did the trick.

Apart from the obvious, there was very little between girls of Arsenal and the boys of AC Finchley who took each other on in the Watford Friendly League. An equal level of football obsession and a desire to do well, to try to fulfil those dreams of making it, underpinned every touch of the ball.

Arsenal are one of the clubs that have embraced this opportunity in an attempt to offer a more competitive environment for their elite girls’ teams to develop. Frankly, that had been an ongoing problem across the game because of the smaller pool of players compared with their male counterparts. It is relatively straightforward for a boy to find a team somewhere, whatever their standard. Up until this season, for the most talented girls selected to play for the top-tier clubs in English football, the environment was not geared up to best help them to push on because finding challenging matches on their doorstep was not easy. The case to play regularly against boys gathered traction.

Tessa Payne, the technical director for Arsenal’s Regional Talent Club who oversees the pathway for female players from five years old through to the Ladies first team, is a believer that pitting the best against the boys brings an invaluable experience. “The FA made a brave decision to be able to put a whole girls team into a boys league, which is quite different from just having one or two girls within your team,” she says.

“We started to recognise that playing against boys – maybe not even at the exact same age group but by matching ability levels – was a really good test, a real challenge for the most exceptionally talented girls.

“We began to do that in friendlies. England use that in preparation for their youth games. It adds to their physicality, their speed of play; they are able to move, react, respond that bit quicker when they are challenged by the boys’ game. That is where they started to think if we are really going to try to push women’s football and compete on another level with those on the international stage, we need to do something at the bottom, to try to support the younger players to give them the best opportunities.” Mixed gender matches are now allowed up to the age of 18.

The girls evidently love it. Rimini Lowe used to play in a boys’ team and the opportunity to represent a professional club and be in an environment geared towards improving all the time is something she relishes. “I prefer to play against boys,” she says. “I think we can play against the boys all the way. There is never a limit.”

Her team-mate Laila Harbert is convinced it is the best football experience they can get. “It is not helping you to improve if you win 20-0 or 30-0. It is better to lose 1-0 against the boys because we learn loads and that is what helps you to become a better player. I’d like to go as far as the Arsenal Ladies first team and play for England.” Olivia Bartlett captures the spirit within the entire camp when she says that playing against boys “feels normal”.


Payne acknowledges it has not been plain sailing all the way. There were a few dissenting voices in the committee meetings across the leagues. Then there was the small matter of convincing everyone it was the right thing – some parents needed educating about the benefits for their daughters, and some opponents had to overcome their reluctance.

“There have been some interesting faces when the girls have turned up,” Payne explains. “Parents and coaches look like they are not quite sure how to respond. A little bit cautious at times. ‘They are girls?’ We had a coach who said: ‘I am a dad. I have daughters. I am a bit worried about these boys going in and tackling the girls. I wouldn’t want a boy to go in with a heavy tackle on a girl.’

“I said: ‘Don’t worry about it. They are footballers. Just look at it like that.’ At the end of the game the coach said we had a fantastic group of great players with a great attitude that want to learn. He is now one of our biggest supporters.”

The AC Finchley boys seemed unfazed. As one of the goalscorers, Mel Telemachou, explains: “It is a normal game. I am not really going to pull out of a tackle because then we are going to lose the game. Girls can be good footballers. Anyone can.” Mindsets are changing.

The game with AC Finchley was closely matched from a technical, physical and competitive point of view. The boys won because they were more ruthless in attacking areas, which is something the Arsenal squad – who in familiar style are educated in a passing style – are working on.

Stevie Kotey, the AC Finchley coach, was impressed. “The first time we played we were really apprehensive, we didn’t know what to expect. But as it turns out within two minutes of playing them the boys feel it is just another game. The boys see it as genderless. I have got so much respect for the way they play. No matter what the result, they play out from the back, they pass and move, they compete.”

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