Baller FC are paving the way for an inclusive football fan space


Baller FC is a collective, event, and community of women’s football lovers. Founded by a queer group of friends in 2020 it is now reassembling in big numbers for this year’s world cup. I spoke to Rachel Gould, one of Baller FC’s founders.

In the past, Rachel’s group of friends rolled around the streets on a game day, desperately trying to find a place they could watch women’s football. Generally, they were greeted with bewilderment. Something that fans of men’s football would probably never experience. If they were lucky enough to get a ‘yes!’ they were usually, as Rachel describes, “tucked away in a side room” or the TV would be on with the volume down. Mostly though, the staff didn’t even seem to know there was a game on.

The second problem? It was just not the right atmosphere. All the founders come from a party background. They’re all promoters or DJs and craved that feeling of unified celebration. They love men’s football too. The atmosphere at those matches is at the right level; passionate and alive. However, the aggression that comes along with it is ingrained in its culture and not so good. “The experience hasn’t been good, I’ve stopped going to men’s football now, I’ve had enough of it. It just doesn’t sit well with me at all.”

The side rooms and droning tones of a TV on its lowest volume weren’t good enough for this group of friends. Inspiration struck on their trip to France during the 2019 Word Cup where they were excited to find welcoming spaces, with hardly any hostility to other countries “We loved that party culture of celebrating with all the fans.” Come the 2020 Euros, Baller FC (Baller Friends Collective) was created, a namesake that reflects their ethos.

They offer a vibrant, community-focused space to watch women’s football games and most of the time have a party after. “We didn’t want it to just be about the football. We wanted a massive social occasion.” After one game, they had a two-piece brass band playing football tunes and then of course ‘Padam Padam’. The whole thing just feels very queer. Rachel tells me, “We haven’t done any statistical reports but overwhelmingly our attendees are queer and either female-identifying or non-binary and trans.”

They are what feels like the antithesis of some other football spaces. Inclusiveness is at the heart of what they do. “It is very difficult to find somewhere you feel safe watching football,” Rachel admits.

With homophobia, racism and misogyny engrained in a lot of football culture, women’s football seems to be offering an alternative which is maybe why a lot of queer women enjoy watching it so much. “Being queer in sports has always been quite challenging for people whether you’re playing it or spectating when you think about going watch football or rugby. Many of our experiences even though we’ve been passionate about what we’re watching, the environment experience hasn’t been good.”

They’ve claimed a space and cut out their own path. Men are a minority (but welcome) and supporters of all teams are encouraged. They regularly show other games than England’s. They advocate friendships and inclusivity, and it’s heart-warming to see how much they really do care about creating friendships over this sport. It is even more heart-warming to see that they just really love the sport and are unwilling to have even a tinge of hostility in their space.

Friendship and chatting to new people are highly likely to occur if you attend a Baller FC event. “We’re all at all of the events. we get a lot of people coming down on their own. They know that they’re going to get introduced to people and it’s a safe space. There’s always going to be people there to chat to.”

Rachel adds: “It feels like more of a celebration. It feels like a really small community that is watching out for each other. It feels more inclusive than any other sporting experience I’ve ever had.”

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