The Women’s Soccer United Story
Women’s Soccer United shares a familiar story to many of the World Class players who fought against the odds to make it where they are today.
It is a tale about a journey of a girl who overcomes many obstacles to fight for change in the way female football is perceived.
Meet Gina West, who fell in love with the game from a very young age, the only girl in her Junior School football team, who went on to play regularly for club and county but was banned from playing football at Senior School because of her gender!
“It was a shock and very upsetting, I couldn’t believe I was being told I was not allowed to play football because I was a girl,” says Gina.
Discrimination in women/girl’s football was not uncommon and opportunities surrounding the sport at this time were very limited. Like many players, at sixteen Gina had to make the tough choice to give up playing the sport she loved as it was not realistic for her to pursue alongside college and work.
“It was a heartbreaking decision,” Gina explains. “Giving up football left a huge void, I was so used to the football routine of life, and it took some time to adjust.”
This defining moment became a driving force behind the creation of Women’s Soccer United, the first online global women’s football platform of its kind, which helped pave the way for others.
“My own experiences of football made me determined to fight for change, no one should feel they cannot play football because they are a girl and no one should have to give up the sport they love because there are no equal opportunities,” says Gina.
With a clear vision in mind Gina set about building Women’s Soccer United from scratch and with no financial support.
“Firstly I researched what there currently was for the game and I was shocked to find there was nothing of its kind around the world,” explains Gina. “I did approach organisations with my ideas but at the time was met with negative responses, which made me more driven to put my dreams into reality, because I strongly believed that the women’s game was worth it.”
Women’s Soccer United is essentially a one woman band as Gina had to learn many new skills and take on many new roles to complete all the necessary tasks.
“I cannot begin to tell you how many setbacks I faced along the way, it really has been a true test of character to overcome the anxieties, doubts and to push myself out of my comfort zone.” Gina explains.
It is easy to mistake Women’s Soccer United as a large global enterprise; however this is not the reality. The core of it is just two people, making lots of sacrifices in order to work for hours to provide the global coverage it offers.
“It is inspiring when you think that just two people have managed to contribute so much, and all for no financial reward,” says Gina. “Asa and I have gone to tremendous lengths to give women’s football at all levels the global coverage, recognition and promotion it deserves, this has meant continuously working on WSU during difficult times whilst maintaining the high level of standard, so that no one would notice.”
An example of this was during Asa’s two-year cancer treatment and recovery that involved weekly trips to a hospital in London, major surgeries, countless hours in wards and waiting rooms! Throughout all of this, they continued to provide the same level of coverage on the WSU website and social media, often updating information from hospital grounds!
Women’s Soccer United is an online community for the players, coaches and fans of women and girl’s football; it has successfully brought together and connected the worldwide game.
“On a personal level, WSU has introduced me to many new friends who share a similar passion, I was lucky to meet two very close friends who have been extremely supportive in so many ways throughout this journey, Izzy (from Brazil) and Biljana (from Serbia),” says Gina.
The Princes Trust has also played a part on this campaign through the guidance of a Business Mentor, Paul Segal.
“Paul is invaluable! Providing me with lots of information, answering questions I have and supporting decisions I make,” explains Gina. “It really built my confidence having the support of the Princes Trust, in particular my Business Mentor, Paul Segal.”
This year marks Women’s Soccer United’s 10 year anniversary, for a decade it has been at the forefront of promoting all aspects of the game using innovative features and content.
“We have been lucky to share content from amazing contributors and photographers on our global campaign, like Maya Mans who attends almost all of Lyon and France WNT’s matches to capture thrilling moments – I am so thankful.” Says Gina.
Women’s Soccer United has experienced tremendous growth and popularity against the odds but it is still individually run. This is why it needs more sponsorship, advertising and member subscription fees in order to be able to continue to provide the services and create new ones.
“I am so proud of Women’s Soccer United and I would love to be able to earn a living and be rewarded for the long-term commitment I have made,” says Gina. “I have so much more I want to achieve to benefit the global game and it’s frustrating that financial resources limit me.”
“If anyone reading this can help with sponsorship, advertising or just by simply becoming a subscription paying member that would help enormously”.
In 2017, there was a massive 44,496,300 impressions on the WSU Twitter accounts, and 3,028,502 total post reach on Facebook! The website receives over 150,000 monthly visitors during major tournaments!