International Women's Day

'We should all be role models and inspire each other'

By Mark Orlovac 5 Mar 2024
Gloria, Arsenal in the Community, International Women's Day

How one participant from Arsenal is using Premier League Kicks and the PLCF Youth Panel to spread the word about sustainability

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To mark International Women's Day on 8 March, we have spoken to five female leaders in football to learn about their experiences and inspirations.

We continue the series by hearing from Gloria, who is a Premier League Kicks participant with Arsenal in the Community and is also a member of the Premier League Charitable Fund Youth Panel.

The PLCF Youth Panel is a group of 14 young people from across the country who have come together to lead, inform and deliver the PLCF's social action environmental project which culminated in an inspiring Protect the Planet celebration event in Liverpool in November, featuring teams from 25 club charities across England and Wales supported by the Premier League.

Tell us about your background

I've been playing football since I was six-years-old and I joined Arsenal in the Community five years ago. They came to my secondary school and I haven't looked back. I felt really comfortable.

It's helped a lot in terms of building up my confidence, especially in football, and about my understanding of different people.

At school everyone was from the same area but with PL Kicks and the Youth Panel, I get to travel and meet people from around the country.

What did your job on the Youth Panel entail?

We met either in person or online once a month. We would talk about climate-related issues and sustainability and what other football clubs are doing in this area.

We also planned the Protect the Planet event. We discussed what we could do that would be fun and engaging. We had ideas about what we wanted to happen, how we wanted the day to look and who we wanted to be there.

We presented our ideas to Premier League Charitable Fund staff and we worked together to implement them. 

Why did you want to do this role? 

The environment is an important subject because it affects a lot of things that are going on around me.

My school is very big on sustainability, we're one of the cleanest schools for recycling and rubbish collection in the area. I understand how vital sustainability is.

The panel reflects this so our views aligned.

It helped me gain an understanding of people's views on sustainability and what different clubs and communities are doing. It was also a fun way to make friends!

Protect the Planet celebration, Anfield, 2023
Why is this role important to you? 

I felt dedicated to it and I've really enjoyed my time on the panel, the experiences I've had and the knowledge and friends that I've gained along the way.

Watching the Protect the Planet event come to life was a very fun moment.

It's definitely broadened my knowledge on sustainability and protecting the planet and I've been inspired by what the clubs are doing and seeing all of the young people that care. 

It was such a lovely community of people that I felt like I could say anything that was on my mind to do with the event. Anything that I had a question about, I could ask because everyone was so welcoming.

It's given me an insight into the world of work and how there's so much more to the Premier League than football. For them to create a panel and then for us to be able to put our minds to it and think deeply about environmental issues is really important.

It was a fantastic experience and I would definitely do it again.

Protect the Planet celebration, Anfield, 2023, Youth Panel
Who are your inspirations?

My mum. Any time I have good news, I want to go and share it with her. She is a sounding board for when I want to talk through things. She guides and supports me. 

How important are female role models in sport?

People don't realise how important women role models are. One of my role models was Serena Williams because she was such a prominent figure in tennis and she achieved so much especially for women of colour in the sport.

Knowing that there is a role model, someone you can aspire to be like, knowing that what you want to do has been achieved and can be done, it's so comforting.

How has the landscape changed for women in football?

More people are aware of women's football and more people are becoming supporters. With that increase in popularity, there are also more women working in football and behind the scenes. I feel very aware of the change.

I remember a few years back when Arsenal came to my school and there weren't so many female coaches but now there are lots.

I'm at the Arsenal Hub, I'm in the stadium, I see a lot of women working and having massive roles.

It gets rid of the stereotype that football is just for men. It has an impact on so many people who will now try to work in football because they are seeing other women doing it.

The theme of International Women's Day 2024 is inspiring inclusion, how do you do that in your role? 

I'm very welcoming, I like to engage with people and include everyone.

Five new people started at our PL Kicks session last week. I've never seen them before but I made an effort to learn their names and find out why they've come to our sessions. I wanted to get to know them and discover what they would like to achieve.

On the Youth Panel, meeting everyone was a bit scary but then learning everyone's story and realising that they are at the same point in life as me was really nice. It gave us something to relate to. We all have different backgrounds and we all accepted each other.

It makes me feel really honoured and flattered that people view me as a role model, because I never planned to be one. We should all be role models, we should all inspire each other.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Never pass up an opportunity. You should keep as many doors open for yourself as possible.

Looking back at what I have achieved, I feel happy that I stuck with my passion and that it has taken me so far.

Arsenal in the Community is one of more than 100 club charities supported by the Premier League via the Premier League Charitable Fund to create positive sporting, health, personal and education opportunities for children, young people and the wider community.

To find out more about our work, click here.

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