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Every year, The University of Nottingham goes head-to-head with their rivals, Trent University, in a charity battle to become Varsity Champions. HerCampus takes a closer look at women’s football and what Varsity means to the team preparing to defend their title.

Women’s football has a largely unknown presence and history. The first women’s football match for the FA was played in 1865. The North played the South, the North winning 7-1. On Boxing Day, 1920, the biggest crowd to date came to watch a women’s match. Dick Kerr’s Ladies beat St Helen’s Ladies 4-0. However, a year later the FA decided to ban women from playing on Football League grounds as they deemed the sport as being “unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged.” This ban was enforced until 1971 when it was finally revoked.

The interest in women’s football has changed drastically over the last few decades. In 2002, the FA announced that football had become number 1 for girls and women participation in England. It is popular all across the country. This is no exception for the University of Nottingham. The official AU women’s football club, NUWFC, are current Varsity champions, winning 1-0 last year against Trent. This was the first time they had won the Varsity match in 9 years and they fully intend to keep their title. The charity Varsity series consists of 14 events over 10 different sports.

The team, supported by the club as a whole, participate in intense training in preparation for the event. The season finished for the club in February, however the team continued their training each week previous to this. Since Easter, they have stepped up the intensity of the training both in regard to fitness and on-the-ball skill. This involves training every day with fitness sessions or regular practice. They have also had a practice match against the men’s team. This is a far cry from the times when football was not seen as fit for women. The University football teams unite in spirit to achieve success. Last year, the win for the women’s football club meant the University won the series.

Despite their win, last year’s Varsity was a difficult time for the girls. One of their members, Ariel Olsen, sadly passed away in the April before the match. The club was devastated after the loss of such a beautiful and special individual. Livi Cracknell, the President of the club from last year, remembers how emotional Varsity day was for the club as a whole, and how morale was wavering at an all-time low. A minutes applause echoed throughout the stadium as the players prepared to play the hardest 90 minutes imaginable. Livi recalls the event:

“I tensely stood on the side-lines completely absorbed in the game but consumed with an overwhelming sense of confidence and assurance- that this would be our year. With the final whistle blown, the score was 1-0 and NUWFC had managed to secure both the Varsity title for Uni and take back the Women’s Football Varsity title that had been in Trent’s clutches for far too long. I’m doubtful that anything will compare to the feeling of watching NUWFC take what was so rightfully theirs after such a dreadful blow to the club. It really felt like Ariel was with us that day.”

The Varsity match was dedicated to Ariel with players from both Trent and Uni wearing black arm bands and proceeds of the ticket sales went directly to the Meningitis Trust. This year’s chosen charity is Headway, a charity to help patients suffering from a brain injury.

One of the key aspects of Varsity and what makes it such a dynamic event is the support of the crowd. First team captain, Sinead King, explains, “The crowd makes such a huge difference, the noise and the atmosphere makes you find that extra burst when you’re sprinting back or to put in that tackle when your legs have gone to jelly. The crowd is the most exciting part!” Each individual works so hard in the lead up to the event, as well as every second in the match itself. Come along and support your girls, and an amazing cause.

Both the women’s and the men’s team need your support. Get your tickets for the big match at the SU website: http://www.su.nottingham.ac.uk/ents/event/4796/

Interested in joining NUWFC next season? Contact the club on Facebook for more information: https://www.facebook.com/nuw.fc

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Lucy Excell


Lucy is a fourth year student at the University of Nottingham studying American History and Literature. She has just come back from a year of study abroad at The University of Calgary, Alberta. Following this she spent six weeks driving across America in a van with 12 others. She currently plays for the University women's football team (NUWFC) and enjoys various sports, reading and writing.
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