A second Uni of York College is merging its men’s and women’s football clubs

Constantine College hope the move will improve inclusivity and opportunity in the game

Constantine College has become the second college at the University of York to merge their men’s and women’s football clubs, following the recent announcement from James College, in a move that aims to improve inclusivity and opportunity in the game.

Speaking to The York Tab, Constantine’s President, Tim Woodford, said that the merger aims to better align with the purpose and benefits of college sport at York, which he believes to be providing “an inclusive platform for students to enjoy socialising while pursuing a sport they love”.

Constantine’s current Women’s Team President, Bethany Ferry, said that the merger is a “massive step in the right direction for women’s football”.

Constantine Football Club will operate as a single club that can be accessed by all members of the college who are interested in playing football at the collegiate level. Previously, Constantine Women’s Football Club has been isolated from the men’s squads, which have been operating under the title of Constantine Football Club. Speaking to The York Tab, Tim said how this separation “just didn’t feel right, especially as the two were already training and working with one another”.

The unified club will have a representative from both the men’s and women’s squads filling committee positions, a decision which aims to ensure “fair and equal representation of both teams”. This system will maintain the option to divide the committees when targeted action is needed quickly whilst providing “the opportunity for greater collaboration regarding larger issues that affect the entire club”.

Tim also highlighted the efficiency benefits that will come with the merger, such as the joint purchasing of equipment as well as the “further development of a sense of club identity and community”.

Similar to James College, who announced their merger a few weeks ago, Constantine College were inspired by the success of England’s Lionesses in the Women’s Euros last summer which “demonstrated the importance and success of allowing women the opportunity to conquer football”.

Beyond this, Tim said how he was inspired by Constantine’s Women’s Team President, Bethany Ferry, who is currently working on a documentary which explores discrimination and inequality within football. He said: “It was incredibly powerful speaking with her about her personal experience, and the experience of her contributors, which educated me on the need for progress to be made in this space”.

Bethany, who has been playing for Constantine’s Women’s Football Club for three years, told The York Tab how she had been “frustrated to find a lot of unnecessary and discriminatory rules and regulations between the female and male leagues within college football.

“It was only last year, for example, that I, with the help of a few other college captains, had to push for the opportunity to have access to appropriate facilities like the 3G pitch at the York Sport Village, a privilege readily available for the men’s squads at the time”.

‘Opening traditionally male dominated sporting arenas will create more opportunities for all students’

The President of Constantine’s Men’s Club, Will, told The York Tab how the merger has been “an eye-opening experience”. He said: “In so many different ways I have seen the barriers that women face in football alone, both on and off the pitch. As a result, I believe it is our duty in management positions to resolve this issue and increase inclusivity throughout the game. I couldn’t be prouder to be involved in such a positive change in Constantine College and as part of a wider expansion of inclusivity in sport as a whole.

“Opening traditionally male dominated sporting arenas will create more opportunities for all students wanting to get involved in sport, regardless of gender, and this will no doubt be of long lasting benefit to Constantine. I hope this change is adopted across the university that allows all students to access the college sports programme, which has been a major part of my university experience”.

‘A massive step in the right direction for women’s football’

Bethany said she was lucky to have people in positions of power share her upset who she has worked with to “give women’s football the equality it deserves, and allow the already highly competitive women’s football leagues to continue to develop”. She also said how she hopes other colleges will follow in the footsteps of Constantine and James, since merging the clubs “is such a massive step in the right direction for women’s football.

“Since it’s currently the fastest growing sport in the world, thanks to the UEFA Women’s European Championships last year, now is the time for everyone to recognise us as part of our beautiful game”.

Tim Woodford echoed this hope for college football at York, telling The York Tab that Constantine College are “always looking for ways to better the offering we provide across all activities the college offers”. He said: “We will continue to work with our Community and Wellbeing teams to engage with our working class, LGBTQ+, BAME, disabled, and international student groups to ensure their voices are always heard, and help educate us on the needs of these communities”.

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