“Nothing made me fight harder for something than a barrier” Brighton Chair, Michelle Walder

In a recent interview with Insider Sport, Brighton & Hove Albion Women’s Chairwoman Michelle Walder spoke on the barriers that have been in place for women in football and overcoming them in recent times. 

This comes after the ongoing FIFA World Cup host nation, Qatar, has been heavily criticised from Western countries over the country’s lack of women’s rights, a topic which was explored by Walder. 

She said: “As ever, you can play these both ways, which is for all the criticism that might be levelled at Qatar around Women’s rights. You also saw on Monday the Iran team not singing their national anthem, essentially in solidarity with women.

“As ever with football, there’s two sides to it. If I take it from my perspective as a teenage girl, nothing made me fight harder for something than a barrier.

“But I think the increasing opportunities for girls particularly, and women, to play football is not going to go away any time soon, so I think that watching a showcase tournament is only going to encourage people to pick up a ball and go and play outside.”

Brighton also announced recently the appointment of their new Managing Director of Women’s and Girls’ football Zoe Johnson, who Walder believes provides a combination of “pitch and off pitch experience”

“One of the first thing’s we will ask Zoe to focus on is to work really closely with our Assistant Technical Director Mike Cane,” said Walder. 

Walder then discussed Brighton’s ambitions in this season’s Women’s Super League (WSL), and believes the team is primed for a top four finish. 

Brighton currently sit 9th in the WSL table and have endured a three match losing streak, but Walder believes the club has a long-term plan in place to improve the club’s fortunes with the help of the new Managing Director Johnson.

“Another focus of Zoe’s is to help us drive that two-year strategy forwards, whilst so many things in the women’s game are unclear. We’re going to have a new broadcast deal, potentially the ownership of the WSL is going to change,” Walder added.

“I think whilst all of this is in play, a five-year view seems a long way out so we stuck with a two-year view that we thought would materially move us to that ambition of being in the top four.”