Beyond the Ball: Shaping the Future of Women’s Grassroots Football in London

We sat down for a Q and A session with founder, Chloe Morfey – Greenberg to discuss the journey of Beyond the Ball.

At Gift of Kit, we understand the critical role coaches play in growing the sport at the grassroots level and our mission aligns perfectly with the ethos of grassroots coaching. With that in mind, we’ve engaged with coaches and clubs in our network to shine a light on these often unsung heroes and pioneers of community sport. 

In the bustling boroughs of London, a revolution brews on the football pitches where local women’s grassroots football is taking root. At the heart of this movement is Beyond the Ball and its founder, Chloe Morfey-Greenberg. 

Jonathan Green, Gift of Kit Co-founder, said of Chloe: “During the Just Eat 101 programme I had the pleasure of meeting Chloe, a pioneering grassroots football coach from London. Her passion and dedication is palpable. Chloe’s enthusiasm for growing the game is as strong as I’ve seen and we’ve been delighted to continue to support her endeavours as she continues to carve out even more opportunities for women to begin football”.

Beyond the Ball has not only ignited a love for football among women in North London but has also built a community that thrives on inclusivity, support, and a shared desire for growth. 

The vision of Beyond the Ball has already illuminated the footballing paths of hundreds of women, encouraging them to lace up their boots and embrace the beautiful game. Through her player/coach role at Edgware & Kingsbury WFC and leadership of Beyond the Ball, Chloe, is responsible for inspiring transformations for women who hadn’t touched a football in decades and are now not only training weekly but also joining league teams. For her, it’s not just about the sport; it’s about the personal journeys and the joy that comes with each dribble, pass, and goal.

When I joined Beyond the Ball, I found myself surrounded by a wonderful group of women, of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, and I got to learn the game in safe, non-judgemental environment. Chloe just knows how to make everyone feel included and worthy. The progress we all make and the confidence we gain from one session to another is incredible. I know I can speak for the group when I say that Thursdays are the highlight of our weeks.
Beyond the Ball Participant
Q and A.

We sat down with Chloe to talk beginnings, philosophies, and visions for the future. 

 

Q. Chloe, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Can you share some of your personal journey into football and what ignited that passion?

Of course, I began playing at school when I was about 8 years old. There wasn’t a girls team or club so I just played with the boys, which had its challenges. I didn’t get passed to, I would have to really fight to play by getting the ball myself. I played a couple of tournaments on the boys team and then eventually my parents signed me up to play for a Sunday league team. I’ve been doing that pretty much ever since. I think what ignited my passion was being good at something. I liked competing to be viewed as a decent player and I didn’t care that I was the only girl. When I went to secondary school I carried on playing even though the not passing became taunting. I was called a ‘Man’ by the boys in my year group. It didn’t stop me. I carried on playing because I LOVED IT!

Q. Beyond The Ball is having remarkable success in introducing women in North London to the joys of football. What was the driving force behind its creation?

Thank you. BTB was born out of the understanding that many women who were beginners in football, wanted to play and learn but didn’t have a space to do it. I wanted to create a space where women could play football regardless of ability or experience and do so in a non judgemental atmosphere.  Think of it like Dance –  If you are an adult and you want to learn to dance for the first time, you go to a beginners class. We haven’t had that with football.

 

Q. Can you walk us through the programs and opportunities Beyond The Ball offers to women in football?

Our key offer is our weekly sessions. We run a “Let’s Train!” session, an hour of coach lead training, building skills, confidence and understanding of the game. 

The second weekly session is “Beyond: The Match”. Again, for mixed abilities and is a facilitated match. We split into teams and play a semi structured game, with the focus on fun.

Finally, we offer seasonal mixed ability Leagues which run over 4,6 or 10 weeks with teams competing in a semi-competitive 7 a side league. Our leagues have a charity focus and we seek to positively impact the local community, donating funds, raising awareness and empowering our players to look beyond winning and see the impact they can have through playing football.

Q. Gift of Kit has been pleased to support your teams through the Just Eat 101 programme and more recently through our sponsorship of the BTB summer league. How important do you think grassroots support initiatives are, particularly for female football?

The support from Gift of Kit has been incredible, especially stepping in to provide every player in our summer league with kit. I wish there were more organisations solely focused on supporting grassroots. 

The increased funding for girls’ football since the Euros is brilliant, however, there is a lot of work to be done. Those young adults who want to try football for the first time need more opportunities. The barriers we face include cost and availability of pitches, reaching potential players, and the stigma surrounding women playing. Hopefully, more brands partner with Gift of Kit so we can have even more women and girls’ participating for years to come.

 

Q. Can you walk us through the programs and opportunities Beyond The Ball offers to women in football?

Our key offer is our weekly sessions. We run a “Let’s Train!” session, an hour of coach lead training, building skills, confidence and understanding of the game. 

The second weekly session is “Beyond: The Match”. Again, for mixed abilities and is a facilitated match. We split into teams and play a semi structured game, with the focus on fun.

Finally, we offer seasonal mixed ability Leagues which run over 4,6 or 10 weeks with teams competing in a semi-competitive 7 a side league. Our leagues have a charity focus and we seek to positively impact the local community, donating funds, raising awareness and empowering our players to look beyond winning and see the impact they can have through playing football.

 

Q. Looking ahead, what is your vision of womens’ grassroots football and for BTB more specifically, and how can more brand support contribute to that vision?

I see a future where we have an equal level of football provision available for women and girls at grassroots level, with more beginners sessions. 

For BTB, there is a realistic chance for it to become one of the central hubs for womens grassroots football. In the immediate future we’ll continue to be a safe space to try football for the first time or return to the game. We’d like to expand links with charity projects, to expose more women and girls to the transformative benefits of football, giving them a way to connect with people, get fit and have fun!

With the increasing cost of running football sessions and the cost of living crisis hitting so many, attracting people from all walks of life is challenging. I don’t want anyone to miss out on the opportunity to play because they can’t afford it. Sponsors can help by covering the costs of pitch hire, providing kit and equipment, or even match funding that we raise for our charity projects to allow us to have a greater impact on our communities.

Concluding thoughts…

Gift of Kit stands as a staunch ally to coaches like Chloe. Our mission? To arm these community champions with resources through initiatives like Beyond the Ball. This program isn’t just about sports equipment; it’s about recognition and support, about providing platforms where dedication like Chloe’s finds new heights to soar.

To support grassroots heroes like Chloe and learn more about our initiatives, visit Gift of Kit’s website and discover how we can help your local heroes shape the future of football.

#BeyondTheBall #GiftOfKit #WomensFootball

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