Dr Hanya Pielichaty – Introductory Blog – April 2018
It’s 30th April 1994 and I am stood in the stands of Leeds Road ready for my first live football match: Huddersfield Town vs Blackpool FC. My first game marked Huddersfield’s last at this ground, a farewell 2-1 victory with goals by Baldry and Starbuck. My support for Huddersfield Town was not the only standout feature of my childhood; being the first girl to ever make it onto the ‘boy’s’ school football team and a Polish surname to boot made me somewhat unusual. Women playing football in my family was not just a thing of the 90s however, my Great Auntie Patricia Robinson (pictured below) played for the Yorkshire Copperworks in the 1950s whilst employed there as a secretary. My role model from history came to influence not only my playing ‘career’ (Lincoln City Ladies and West Bromwich Albion Women) but also my love for football academia.
Caption: My Great Auntie Patricia Robinson (on the ball) playing for the Yorkshire Copperworks (1953) © Helena Pielichaty.
Amidst the rhetoric of inclusivity and equality within girls’ and women’s football I am curious about whether real cultural shifts about women and girls’ suitability for football have indeed changed. Amongst continuous battles for funding, challenges for equal media coverage and the fight for respect, I want to know why women and girls start and continue to play the game we all love? My previous research and recently completed PhD addresses just this, entitled: The Football Self: An Exploration of Gender, Football Experiences and Family Relationships. I argue that women and girls’ participation features within a ‘Sanctuary Paradox’: a space for both tranquil escape and ideological persecution. In addition to this I am also fascinated about the family support and interconnection to football identities (‘football self/selves’) that players foster through participation. A very under-developed area of academia and one I hope to address with future publications. I specifically investigated the ‘football self’, image and appearance, gendered parenting within girls’ and women’s football, siblingships and familial bonding.
I am delighted to be part of the Football Collective and am very much looking forward to discussing some of these topics with like-minded, inquisitive souls. As well as daily football pondering I am also a Senior Lecturer at the University of Lincoln and run the BA (Hons) Sports Business Management degree within Lincoln International Business School. Before this I managed the BSc (Hons) Events Management programme and connected to this published Events Project Management and research on festivals, gender and the carnivalesque.