Celebrating women in Hertfordshire’s Football community and encouraging action to drive equality in the game
At Hertfordshire FA we are committed to building a more equal game. A game free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A game that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A game where difference is valued and celebrated.
We work to ensure that football in our county provides opportunities for all and on International Women’s Day are proud to celebrate the the women in our community whose efforts drive the game forward.
As part of our ongoing #SeeItBeIt campaign and to celebrate International Women's Day 2023, we are proud to shine a light on women working across football in a variety of roles, both from within our own organisation and beyond.
We know that visibility is vital to help inspire the next generation and to let them know that football is a place where they are able to follow their dreams, whether that be as a player, coach, official or administrator within the game.
Across our social media we will be sharing the stories of women within the local game and the impact they have on others. We hope that other will join us in doing the same:
Chloe Tate - Football Operations Officer, Hertfordshire FA
I initially did a work placement with Hertfordshire FA while at university at Hertfordshire FA and after graduating obtained a full-time role within the team, being promoted to my current role in November. I love working in the game, having been playing football since I can remember. I am still an active member for a women’s football team playing every week, although working in the Discipline side of the game gives you a different perspective on the pitch! I am naturally a winger but more recently you may find me within central midfield or in the back four. I’m a big Leeds United fan so my favourite football moment was seeing them get promoted to the Premier League after a 16-year absence.
Dani Toyn - Head of Community Engagement, Stevenage FC Foundation
I first got into volunteering in football when I was about 15 through Bedwell Rangers and was coaching and managing with them until I was around 18. From there it has just grown and grown and I’m currently Head of Community engagement at Stevenage FC Foundation and as part of my role I look after the Women and Girl’s pathway including Stevenage FC Women. I have had lots of amazing times both playing and coaching football, but my favourite football memory has to be the Euros final last summer. Watching the Lionesses win the Euros at Wembley and be one of the 90,000 people to experience that was just incredible.
Joanne Horwood - Referee
I had a passion for playing the game and wanted to give something back and so in 2018 I started refereeing and began to progress through the levels. I am very lucky to have support and guidance throughout my progression and have now become a Level 3 Contributory League Referee and I assist on Conference North and South. My favourite football moments have been refereeing at Wembley Stadium, refereeing Women’s County Cup final, assisting at Vicarage Road and meeting all the inspirational people that have got me to where I am now. I am an Assistant Head Teacher working within a Secondary School and I enjoy seeing students flourish and excel in their education.
Hayley Wood-Thompson - Player, Coach and PE Teacher
I am a PE Teacher and Deputy Head of Sixth Form, captain of Cheshunt FC Women and also a coach with the English Schools FA. I got into coaching when my secondary school was hosting a Level 1 with Hertfordshire FA, so I signed up aged 16! I knew it would help my understanding of the game and support my future career goals of becoming a PE Teacher. I had already been playing consistently since the age of 8 and was on the books with Watford FC Women, really enjoying my football, gaining a coaching qualification was an obvious next step. I have now spent 10 years coaching with Herts Schools FA running their U16 Girls team, giving school aged footballers the chance to progress their careers and challenge themselves at a regional level, some of which have now gone on to secure professional contracts, and national representation. My favourite football moment was being drawn against Arsenal Women in the FA Cup whilst making my debut for Brighton & Hove Albion and scoring past Emma Byrne! Also witnessing the Lionesses win the Euro's and the entire country get behind them. It really made me feel like women's football was finally on the map and all the years of hard work to grow the game was worth it!
Nicola Burton, Award Winning Coach
I got into coaching when my son started playing for St Albans Rangers at U7’s. They needed a coach and so I put my hand up and took on the team at U8 and am still with them now 5 years later. In that time I have progressed through the coaching badges and gone from a reluctant coach to someone who can’t get enough of the game. I’ve had so many amazing moments watching the team grow from boys to young men, from learners to league winners, playing the game they love with their friends every weekend, watching my own son score his first goal, challenging myself and achieving more than I thought I could as a coach. It’s all the little things that make it special and I love being part of it and to be named Grassroots Coach of the Year for Youth by Hertfordshire FA was just a incredible and unexpected honour. It’s brilliant to know people value what you do. Outside of football I love to teach, and those two sides of my life have come together having recently changed career and joined Watford FC CSE Trust.
Madeline Hurley – FA National Youth Council
I used to write a Kids Sports section in The Comet Newspaper where I interviewed Hertfordshire FA’s Referee Officer who suggested doing a referee course. Despite never having played I signed up and I began refereeing in 2017 and continued until I left for university in 2020. In 2018, I was asked to support coaching a new Wildcats centre in Pirton, after volunteering at the club for my Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award. I began assisting coaching at the Wildcats centre in 2018 and completed my Level 1 course and continued coaching until I left for university. During this period, I also volunteered at Hertfordshire FA supporting their youth integration and Wildcats work. I am currently at Loughborough University studying Sport and Exercise Psychology - this year I am working at Sport England for my placement year. I am also on the FA National Youth Council as the Leadership and Development Lead for the Midlands region. My favourite football moment was attending the FA Leadership Academy in 2019 at St George’s Park.
Abigail Rawling – Mid Herts Rural Minors League
With two teenage children who play and a husband who coaches I found myself as the administrator for their teams and a few others around ten years ago. Before long I was looking after the membership and fixtures for the club and sitting on the club committee. More recently the full-time role at the MHRML came up and it felt like a good fit for me. Being around volunteers who are passionate about grassroots football is inspiring. I notice more and more women involved and this is so positive as women bring a different perspective, and this is only going to encourage more girls to play and more women to be involved. The women I work with at the league are forward thinking and always looking for ways to make improvements which I love. My most memorable football moment is watching my son in goal at a young age in a tournament about to take penalties. I had my heart in my mouth, but he was as cool as a cucumber.
Time to Make a Change
These represent just a small fraction of the many thousands of women involved in football in our county whose work helps improve the game for others. Thank you to all those who shared their stories (including those we weren’t able to fit in this time round), we know they will help to inspire others by showing that football is a place where they can thrive.
If your club wants to do more to create opportunities for Women and Girls to get involved at all levels of the game we can support you reach your goals.
For more information, please contact Gemma Smith by email or on 01462 650211.