What better way to mark International Women’s Day in 2021, than a local women’s football team walking over 400 kilometres to raise awareness of the plight of women facing poverty and domestic abuse, locally and abroad?
Over 30 players and the management team from Frenford & MSA Women FC, left their homes at 12pm on 6th March and walked 5-10km individually (due to the pandemic). The Redbridge-based football team raised over £8000 collectively and are being sponsored by local estate agent; Lint Group who sponsored £10 for every kilometre walked (up to 200km) as matched sponsorship.
This team of inspirational women were already supporting the local community struggling during the pandemic by distributing food parcels in partnership with Redbridge Mutual Aid. Every few weeks, several players distribute, pack and make calls to those requiring food parcels and support. This initiative has been such a success that their premises is now the location of the Frenford & Mutual Aid Redbridge Food Bank for which they have received grants for £10k and £27k plus donations to feed people in Redbridge, Canning town, Leyton and parts of Newham.
Currently, they distribute to 140 households and feed about 450 people every three weeks. However, during the pandemic they noticed a growing demand for food parcels that had been delivered to abuse survivors who had been moved for safety reasons.
This team of international women felt that they had to take further action especially with cases of domestic abuse rising during the lockdown in the UK. During and after the first lockdown in April, May and June, roughly one-fifth of offences involved domestic abuse. Police recorded 259,324 domestic abuse offences between March and June – 7% up on the same period in 2019.
As a result, the Frenford team chose to support Refuge and Unicef. Refuge has become the country’s largest single provider of specialist domestic and gender-based violence services and now support over 6,000 women and children on any given day.  Whilst Unicef are actively supporting Yemeni families facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Currently, 1.71 million children alone are internally displaced facing the dangers of war, disease and hunger.
Organiser Irfan Shah, alongside participants Sabah Mahmood, Tayyiba Yunis, Rose Luther and Yasmin Hussain, said: “Frenford & MSA Women FC has a history of offering inclusive programs to all women and girls with opportunities to play football. That is why it was so important to continue to help by shining a light on a women’s right to safety and security away from domestic abuse and poverty. We are extremely proud of what our women’s team has achieved during this fundraiser. All humans have the right to dignity and safety so this fundraiser will provide counselling, food and medical support to these charities.”
“Raising the awareness in the increased levels of domestic violence in our local communities, as well as supporting the plight of displaced children in Yemen is key. I am delighted that Lint Group have supported Frenford and MSA Women FC in their efforts. ” said Rizz Patel, Managing Director, Lint Group.
Frenford & MSA Women FC was formed in 2018 when they teamed up with the Muslimah Sports Association (MSA) to create the first women’s community football club working with local communities to engage more females, especially from a BAME background who are currently under-represented in the sport. This award-winning team recently entered the FA Peoples Cup and won the Nike Women’s tournament hosted at Stamford Bridge- Chelsea’s playing field. Women from all walks of life, have come together to change the narrative of women as oppressed and subjugated. Frenford and MSA Women FC are always open to new participants from the age of 5 so please contact them via Instagram @frenfordandmsawomenfc