With the conversation around women's football reaching new height with England's Lionesses consistently raising their game at the Euros and this year's FIFA World Cup, community member Kobi Axel headed down to The Basement Cup to speak to the women on the pitch about their love of The Beautiful Game.
Thrilling. Competitive. Exciting. Spirited. All of these words were used to describe the energy in North West London at fourth annual Basement Cup at Trent Country Club this August.
With our favourite brands playing head to head in mixed teams, vying to win the coveted Basement trophy – and bragging rights for the next 12 months – this year it was Baiteze who took the crown from reigning champs Places + Faces.
In light of a real galvanisation of popular culture’s interest in and respect for women in the sport, this year I celebrated just how far football has come for the girls.
The recent Women’s World Cup has inspired many to get on the pitch themselves and, while a little more grassroots, The Basement’s firm rule that each team must field at least two female-identifying players in each match is testament to this renewed sense of camaraderie on the pitch in a space that has traditionally felt very gender exclusive.
To celebrate women in our community who are ballers themselves, I spoke to the girls after the games about their journey with football and what they want this next generation to hold women nd girls who are in love with the game.
How did you get into women’s football?
Lily (Team Places + Faces): I started playing when I was four for a boys team and then eventually got picked up by a girls team when I was about 10. I dropped off during high school then started again during the pandemic.
Kashayla (Team Habitat): I’ve been playing since young. Like, a baby. My daddy played so now I’m playing, innit.
Ocean (Team EYC): I’ve been playing football since I was six and it kind of just stemmed from being in the school playgrounds, playing with the guys. I was just always really naturally drawn to it.
Sasha (Team BSMT): Grew up with two older brothers so if I wanted to play, I had to get good and play them. They stuck me in goal quite a lot but then you learn how to play and then they can finally go in goal.
Rams (Team Peachy Den): I started playing when I lived in Sri Lanka with the boys team. I was, like, six.
How does it feel seeing the representation of women in the World Cup right now?
Imani (Team Habitat): I think they’re opening a lot more doors for the youth and it’s inspiring a lot of other girls and younger generations to play. I think it’s really inspirational.
Zee (Team Shabab): I think it’s incredible. I’m cheering for Morocco, they’re amazing.
Zemclark (Team Versus): At the moment, it’s alright. I’d love to see more representation. I’d say more black girls in the Lionesses!
Bella (Team Places + Faces): I think that there is a little bit of a lack of representation. Like, me growing up, it’s always been weird to see the lack of representation for black girls but hopefully that will change.
What would you say to any woman or girl looking into participating in football?
Sasha (Team BSMNT): I think you just gotta go and give it a go, whether it’s with some other girls or other boys, you got to try it. Go kick a ball in the park, you could love it and it could be your next thing. The main thing is to do it. If you don’t do it, we’re not gonna be able to grow the game and play.
Bella (Team Places + Faces) Just play it man, like absolutely just play it.
Rams (Team Peachy Den): Oh, just join in. You don’t need to get anything; it’s like the cheapest sport to play. Just get some trainers and play with your friend who plays or your brother or whoever plays. Just get involved.
What are your hopes for women’s football in the future?
Ocean (Team EYC): I just want it to be more accessible and for people to get as excited about the female’s games as they do the men’s game. Double the football, Double the fun.
Raquel (Team Clints Inc): I think more inclusivity. When I played, I was the only Black girl up until I was, like, 19. Even as a person of colour, I was the only one on the team for the whole time in leagues. I travelled everywhere and might see one POC or one Black girl. I think it’s more to do with affordability. I know for me, I couldn’t afford the boots or the socks or the travel money, so I feel like it’s common for other Black girls who deal with the same.
Kessie (Team Peachy Den): Just more accessible and played throughout school, because it’s something that I never got to play in school. I think that that would be nice.
Nells (Team Versus): Same pay as the men.
Zee (Team Shabab): I want them to win. I want them to shine. That’s the goal. We need to make more teams; more women playing on the pitch. I wanna see someone like me playing so I can dream, so that someone younger than me can dream to be that as well. When we were younger we played, but we didn’t have that dream to be on a pitch; we couldn’t see enough girls.
Words & Photography