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December 13th 2023

Vicky Park: BHS girls fight for their right to play football

Vicky Park Football Club guardian photo1 screenshotIn September, girls’ football team Vicky Park Rangers FC hit the news, arriving at a training session to discover they had been turfed out of their training ground to make way for a boy’s team. But the girls fought back - and won. Two of the team’s players, Maia and Grace, are Blackheath High students (Year 7) and here they tell us about their victory and the importance of standing up for your rights. 

“We play football in the U12 team of Vicky Park Rangers (VPR). Our team plays weekly in the London Girls Capital League. On 20 September, we arrived for training at Stepney Green AstroTurf to find that we had been kicked out of our training pitch and that it had been given away to a non-professional boys’ team that didn’t even play in a league! When we heard this, we decided to fight for our rights and not let them take our pitch away. Where else would we train? Why should we have to move? 

“Our coaches and parents sent out emails and social media posts which soon went viral when some sport journalists and even famous sportswomen like Martina Navratilova, the tennis player, retweeted our posts. Our team hired a lawyer to help us and the social media posts also got the attention of the BBC, the Guardian and The Independent who all asked if they could run our story.  The Guardian sent a photographer to do a photo shoot of the teams in front of the pitch and journalists came to interview us. That weekend, radio stations were talking about us and papers had articles about the injustice we had suffered as a team. This caught the attention of the Mayor of Tower Hamlets who intervened, giving the pitch back to our club. It was stressful but also quite exciting and we learnt that when injustice happens, we shouldn’t be quiet but stand up for our rights and fight back!” 

In a statement, VPR coach Tanner Baycanli, commented, “We hope this will be a great life lesson for our girls. Girls can advocate for change and make a difference. Persevering in adversity is a worthy cause. And we can rely on our community for support.” 

Read more in our article in the Guardian.

Maia and Grace, Year 7 

Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer


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