IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Players without a football pitch welcome review into bookings

03 January, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

A REVIEW has been launched looking into football pitch booking systems after grassroots teams claim they struggle to get access.

The review launched by leisure company GLL is expected to finish in early 2020.

It comes after a campaign by women’s team Goaldiggers Football Club who say they struggle to find prime-time pitch space for training.

Fleur Cousens, the club’s founder and manager, said: “I’m really excited about the review – it’s a positive step and I hope other branches of GLL in different boroughs follow. I have my fingers crossed that the review will result in a change to the pitch booking structure so that teams for women and non binary people are allowed access to pitch space.

“Women are playing catch-up. We are trying to access space that has been dominated by men for years. How is women’s football meant to grow when there’s no space for it to grow?”

Goaldiggers train every Wednesday at the Bridge Secondary School and previously trained in Highbury Fields, where sessions were often disbanded by the council’s park patrol teams.

A GLL spokesperson said: “Working closely with Islington Council, we will nominate a bookings officer to work on the review, under the guidance of a senior Islington-based GLL manager. In practice the review will look at how we allocate space, renew contracts and manage bookings. It will also look at wider issues around availability, peaks in demand and current usage by sport and demographic.

“Our aim is to ensure we are offering fair and balanced access to municipal leisure spaces, recognising the huge and rapid growth in women’s football and also the fact that demand currently outstrips supply at peak times within the borough.”

An Town Hall spokes­man said: “Islington Council is committed to promoting sport for women and girls around the borough – we strongly support GLL’s review of booking systems for leisure services and spaces, and we will work closely with GLL on this.

“Islington is a very small, dense borough with limited space. Demand for our football pitches and other sports facilities far outstrips supply, especially at peak times, and we want to help ensure access is fair for all.”

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