Exclusive: Anita Asante on how to tackle gender inequality in football

Anita Asante of Chelsea Women looks on
KINGSTON UPON THAMES, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06: Anita Asante of Chelsea looks on as she warms up prior to the FA Continental Tyres Cup Semi Final match between Chelsea Women and Manchester City Women at The Cherry Red Records Stadium on February 06, 2019 in Kingston upon Thames, England. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

Anita Asante spent her entire career fighting for three points on the pitch, but following her retirement, she is now wanting to see the same fight away from it.

Asante was one of the trailblazers for women’s football — turning out in the famous colours of Arsenal, Chelsea and Goteborg as well as pulling on the England shirt seven times.

The dominant defender was part of the historic Arsenal side of 2006/07 that lifted a famous quadruple, something she’s admitted was a proud moment given the fact “the game wasn’t fully behind us.”

Paving the way for thousands of young girls and boys to start playing football and being comfortable doing so is a huge achievement for Asante, but now she wants to see others do the same.

Speaking as a Workplace Culture Speaker, Asante urged the powers that be to ensure every young aspiring footballer has an equal opportunity to play the beautiful game.

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Anita Asante on equal opportunities

“Well, fundamentally, I think it’s about giving young girls and young boys the same equal opportunities from the very base level,” she said.

“That’s the grassroots level foundations within clubs and giving them the same level of resources and attention. It will not naturally cultivate and thrive on its own.”

Just over 50 years ago, the FA finally lifted its ban on women playing football, so helping the next generation reach the same level as their male counterparts is hugely important.

While the glitz and glamour of this summer’s European Championship will be great for the game and the WSL will always be a huge pull, the FA need to build from the ground up.

If the correct coaches, facilities and pathways aren’t in place, then there won’t be another generation of players like the ones on show now, something Asante spoke about.

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Foundations have to be in place

“I believe that if you give everyone the same kind of space to feel empowered and show their ability, it will naturally grow with that.

“So, fundamentally you need to have the right grassroots foundation, but you also need people at the top to execute power, to pull in the same direction and recognise the equal value of both boys and girls, and obviously men and women in different roles within sport.”

If the FA and other governing bodies can get it right from the Sunday and Saturday league matches on local fields, the game will grow and blossom in the future.

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