Goal Diggers FC is a non-profit club set up in London to make football more available and accessible to all women and non-binary people regardless of previous experience or ability.
I founded Goal Diggers FC (GDFC) in September 2015 because I was fed up of being told football was a man’s game – so I created GDFC to flip the script. The main aim of GDFC is to show that football doesn’t need to be gendered – football is a sport for everyone. In order to make GDFC as inclusive and accessible as possible, membership prices are kept low and teams are based on availability instead of ability, with matches being open to all members on a first sign up basis. This fosters a uniquely encouraging environment free from the inter-player rivalry that comes with ability based selection. It also means players have their own agency over how much football they get to play each week and at what ability level.
Founder, Fleur Cousens
We have a fantastic FA qualified coaching squad who run training sessions and manage our team squads. Have a question for them? Contact them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are currently recruiting an FA Level 1 Senior Coach and an FA Level 1 Goal Keeper Coach to join our coaching team! If interested, email email@example.com.
Josh Pugh He/Him My role is to work with GDFC members to support their development as footballers, by planning, delivering and evaluating training sessions, along with organising match day squads for 7 and 11 a side.
Amy Lester She/Her My role is to turn Diggers into Lionesses one training session at a time, to create and inclusive and positive environment in grassroots football for women and non-binary players and be a source of information and advice for anyone who needs it.
Alison Speechly She/Her My role as a coach is to engage, educate and empower players and coaches to be the best that they can be. I have a player-centred focus and I coach from a strengths-based approach, helping players to feel confident as footballers and people, as well as challenging them to improve in a safe and fun way.
Kitty Burne She/Her As one of the GDFC coaches, I take training sessions as often as possible, as well as running matches and outreach programmes – like GDFC 40+.
Emily Jayne Link She/Her Ultimately I try to make sessions as a fun as possible. I truly believe the best learning happens when people are enjoying themselves. Oh and if it's too easy I'll quickly adapt the plan to up the challenge and ensure people break a sweat!
Our club is run by our fabulous committee. Our committee is completely voluntary – they pay for everything: membership, leagues, merch, tour etc. Without them there would be no GDFC. Have a question for them? Contact them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Martha Godfrey They/Them
Gaia Laidler She/Her
Alex Rawn She/Her
Emma Magnus She/Her I am responsible for planning and delivering outreach sessions which target players aged outside of our core demographic. This year, with funding secured from Sport Islington, we launched 4 free 40+ sessions for players who would consider their age a barrier to playing football for the first time. In June, we won Sport Islington’s ‘Sports Club of the Year’ award as a result.
Katy Covell She/Her
Liz Ward She/Her
Laura Howard-Harman She/Her
Shivani Dave They/Them
Paula Griffin She/Her
Here at GDFC we aim to create a safe environment for all women and non-binary players to play football. Below are our official policies on equality and gender inclusivity explained.
Goal Diggers FC exists to make football more available and accessible to all women and non-binary people, regardless of experience or ability. We aim to make everyone feel welcome, encouraged and included. This means we strive to create an environment in which everyone is respected and treated equally regardless of race, gender, class, sexuality, age, religion or disability. We believe we can achieve this if everyone involved in the club bears in mind that:
ON AND OFF THE PITCH, WE
1. Maintain a positive and respectful attitude with our teammates, opposition, referees, coaches and ourselves. Everyone feeling good matters more than winning!
2. Use clear, inclusive and gender-neutral language.
3. Keep in mind how much space we take up, individually and as a group, with our bodies and with our voices. Respect each others’ physical space and boundaries.
4. Remember that others have different backgrounds, cultures and identities to us.
PREJUDICE, DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT
5. We have a zero-tolerance approach to racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and all other prejudice or discrimination, including so-called “micro-aggressions”.
6. ‘Banter’ is a part of the football experience, but it’s not banter to demean someone on the grounds of their race, sexuality, gender identity or any other protected characteristic.
7. Gender inclusivity: When we say we are a club for women and non-binary people we mean all women (trans, intersex and cis) and all non-binary people, both those assigned female at birth (AFAB) and those assigned male at birth (AMAB).
8. Pronouns: We do not police gender in our space. Gender self-definition is at the sole discretion of that individual. Whenever we exchange names as a group, we also share our gender pronouns so that everyone has the opportunity to self-identify.
9. Anyone can contact the inclusion and diversity team to raise any issue. They will be taken seriously. We have an accountability procedure in place to deal with incidents in as timely, proportionate, fair and transparent a way as possible.
10. However, we are all collectively responsible for holding each other and ourselves to account for any harmful or oppressive behaviour. We must all be willing to be accountable for what we do and say, try to behave responsibly and with sensitivity, listen to others’ views, be ready to apologise, make amends, and learn from our mistakes - and support each other to do this constructively and in good faith.
GENDER INCLUSIVITY EXPLAINER
While the club is not for men (cis or trans), we want to be inclusive and supportive of all women and non-binary, agender and gender variant people and challenge gender stereotypes and norms. We know some of these terms will be new to people and are committed to educating ourselves and our peers about gender inclusivity. Here’s a short explainer & some useful tips.
A person’s gender identity is their sense of self as a man, woman, non-binary person or other sense of gender. A person’s gender identity is typically expected to follow directly from the sex they were assigned at birth (based on physical attributes), but this is not always the case. (Sex is also not always binary. For example, ‘intersex’ refers to physical variations whereby a person’s physical characteristics differ from the typical male or female patterns. Intersex people are not the same as trans people.)
Someone who is ‘cis’ (short for ‘cis-gender) is anyone who feels comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth and it matches their gender identity.
trans (short for ‘transgender’) includes anyone whose sex they were assigned at birth does not match their gender. It includes trans men, trans women and non-binary people. Best estimates suggest that around 1% of the population falls under the trans umbrella.
Trans people may or may not choose to undergo or be able to access gender affirming medical intervention such as taking hormones (also known as HRT or hormone replacement therapy) and/or having gender-affirming surgeries. (It’s almost always not your business and not appropriate to ask whether a trans person is on hormones or accessing surgery.)
A non-binary person is anyone who does not subscribe to the customary binary approach to gender, and who may regard themselves as neither male nor female, or both male and female, or take another approach to gender entirely. Non-binary people includes both those assigned female at birth (AFAB) and those assigned male at birth (AMAB).
When we refer to a person without using their name, we use pronouns. Usually these are gender specific. Along with the gendered pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she’, you may come across people who us ‘they’. This is a gender neutral pronoun. Alternative gender neutral pronouns are often called ‘neopronouns’ which are ‘newer’ gender neutral pronouns such as xe/xem/xyr, ze/hir/hirs, and ey/em/eir. (ie for xe/ xem/ xyr, you might say xe is a really good footballer, xem teammates can always rely on xem).
At GDFC we take each individual’s lead regarding pronouns and title. That’s why we should always ask for people’s names and what pronouns they’d like us to use today. If someone makes it clear how they would like to be addressed, then respect those preferences (at all times - even when the person in question is not present).
If you ‘misgender’ someone (make a mistake with their pronouns), just correct yourself and apologise briefly and do your best to use the right terms in future
If you hear someone else misgender someone, correct them in the moment if possible or remind them as soon as possible
Avoiding assumptions: None of us can be certain of the gender of other people unless they tell us. You can’t tell someone’s gender just by looking at them or hearing their voice. It’s best to avoid using gendered language until you know how they identify.
USING GENDER NEUTRAL LANGUAGE
When you’re addressing a group of players who may not share the same pronouns, try to avoid using gendered language (eg. say “team”, "diggers", "goals" rather than “girls” or “ladies”).
Contemporary transphobic narratives often imply that trans people (usually trans women) have an inherent and unfair advantage but this simply isn’t true. Some women (both cis and trans) are tall and/or strong but it’s a myth that all trans women are. Women come in all shapes and sizes. Indeed, all bodies differ across many characteristics. The ‘fair’ thing to do is to maximise inclusion, remove barriers to trans participation in sport and create space for everyone to enjoy football.
If you have any questions or concerns, please approach someone from the Inclusion and Diversity Team who will be happy to chat with you!
GDFC’s Equality Policy outlines how we as a club strive to create an environment in which everyone is respected and treated equally. This Accountability Policy (based on DIY Space for London’s Accountability Handbook) outlines processes for addressing harms caused by any breaches. Our aim is to foster healing, build a culture of care, and make our community more just and inclusive.
1. We are all capable of harmful words and actions. We believe that our community is made stronger by holding people to account (should they choose to engage) rather than shutting them out. At the same time, we must prioritise the safety of our members.
2. We are all collectively responsible for holding each other and ourselves to account. Being accountable means taking responsibility for our actions and being ready to make amends.
3. Accountability processes should be as timely, objective, confidential and fair as possible.
4. They should acknowledge harm caused and listen to, and prioritise, the needs and agency of those harmed, involving them in the process as much or as little as they want.
5. They should enact proportionate consequences for the person whose behaviour or language caused harm but also provide resources (eg. listed here) to enable them to learn and change.
6. We should be mindful that these processes can easily impact the mental health of all involved, and require additional time and labour on top of an already demanding voluntary role.
GUIDANCE ON RESPONSES
We have a zero-tolerance approach to racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and all other prejudice or discrimination,
Level 1: CHECK IN
Lowest and most common form of intervention.
Useful for harm caused by low-level oppressive speech. A way to flag our Equality Policy and remind someone to think about their words more carefully in future.
Can be done in person or via email by any member of GDFC and/or they can reach out to the Inclusion and Diversity officer(s) for support.
Be honest and clear in communicating what needs to be said but also be open to dialogue and try to be generous as they may feel embarrassed.
Level 2: CALL IN
For addressing more serious incidents eg. verbal abuse, low-level harassment.
Should be handled in person by at least two GDFC committee members.
Make clear the behaviour is an unacceptable breach of the Equality Policy.
Ask them to take time out, reflect & stay away from the person they hurt.
If the person hurt says they would, in time, feel able to work towards a resolution, offer to facilitate a process for this, which might include:
an apology from the person who caused harm
evidence of engagement in understanding the harm they caused and work towards transformative, personal growth to change their behaviour
Level 3: CALL OUT
In extreme (and very unlikely!) circumstances, the GDFC committee may decide to suspend someone from the club, temporarily or permanently:
For a serious breach of the Equality Policy eg. physical or sexual violence
If someone refuses to be held accountable for harm they caused
If it is felt the safety of a fellow member(s) is at immediate risk
They will be notified of the decision in writing. This will be accompanied by details of the procedure for their return, if the suspension is temporary.