Announcing our sponsorship of the AF League

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Back in January, we announced our sponsorship of Newground United; we are now super-excited to reveal that we’ll be sponsoring the AF League too. This is a milestone for size?, further helping us provide more support to grassroots football.  

The AF League is an alternative football league for women, trans and non-binary people, ditching the tribalism of the men’s game and focussing on inclusivity, community and positive energy. This safe environment offers fun and friendly football for any level of footballing ability – while the competitiveness on the pitch remains.

With the new AF League season up and running, we invited all the teams to a shoot last weekend to capture their brand-new kits and have a chat about all things AF League and the community within it.

The Kits

A new season means a new roster of kits will be on display – and there’s some real gems this year. From breaking new ground with Newground United’s vibrantly put-together kit, to the playful variety of the Where’s Walley FC jersey, AI inspiration for Sleek FC, and Rain On Me’s unmistakable pink and black tones – the AF league has some iconic new jerseys. Not to forget Lez Be United; Sabs talked us through this design process, “we went for the old school retro look. I think the best shirts made are the old school Serie A shirts, so we went for 92/93 Inter away shirt and a retro Wolves shirt.”

The Journey

Every player from the AF League has their own journey getting involved and falling in love with football. For Ruby – a winger/striker for Where’s Walley FC – the AF League was a chance to venture into team sports, alongside more solo-focused activities like running. The isolation of the pandemic inspired the rise of the Romalinas, offering an excuse to keep fit and healthy while interacting safely. A common inspiration was the International Women’s Team, especially the World Cup in 2019 and the emphatic Euro 2022 trophy won by Wiegman’s side.

Meg, a winger for Newground United, described the moment that changed everything, “The first time I ever watched women’s football was the World Cup in 2019. Some of my friends dragged my to the pub, and I was like – I want to do this.” Sabs added to this:

“We started the league late October, and it came off the high of the women’s Euros. I’m a season ticket holder at Man United men’s, and it was about feeling that disconnect from the game and the players, but seeing the women and how down to earth and real they are. We thought it would be great to start a team, and we saw the AF league and had to start one.”

Sabs also spoke about the struggle of playing when growing up, having to sneak out to even play football. Rock the Crossbar’s ‘Thumper’ also spoke about the struggles of playing when growing up:

“Football for girls wasn’t a big thing when I was at High School, but the girls decided to start a little football thing in the afternoons…Later on in life I missed playing football, so I joined a meet up thing for football, and a lot of the girls on our team are from that meet-up.”

For many, the love of the game was there throughout their lives – the platforms weren’t though, and the stigma of it being a men’s game was a hurdle to overcome.

Inclusivity and Community

This leads us to two of the most important elements of the AF League: inclusivity and community. The bond between the teams in the AF League is organic and inspiring, with each team sharing the same ethos; the league is a community that thrives on inclusivity, diversity and moving forward as a whole. Alice spoke on behalf of 50 Shades of Green, claiming, “I always feel comfort as I walk in that area, as I know everyone there is lovely, they want people to have fun and be happy – they care about the community that they are becoming a part of.”

Chloe from Manchester Bees spoke about the AF League being a truly safe space for the LGBTQ+ community too, “having somewhere I can go and talk about my fiancé, without being judged or having to be careful. I’ve met some of my best friends in the AF league, and it gets me out of some bad times, some bad moments.”

The socialising is also one of the key elements – everyone in this league knows each other, plus it is welcoming to any new starters. Saf from Sleek FC talked about this, explaining “the community is wicked, so inclusive, and so social. You can be beginner or pro; old or young. Everyone is made to feel so welcome, so included.” While Meg added, “The competitiveness comes from a place of wanting to win and do better, not from a sense that they are all our enemies – it feels really nice in that sense.”

With this unity, inclusivity and fearlessness – it is simple – the sky is the limit for the AF League.

Keep your eyes peeled for more content on our blog and socials. A special thanks to all the teams involved: There She Goals FC, Barely Athletic, Rock The Crossbar, Where’s Whalley FC, Lez Club 7 FC, Lez Be United FC, Newground United FC, Rain On Me FC, 50 Shades of Green, Goals Aloud FC, Spice Goals FC, Manchester Bees.

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