I?d like to think we Arsenal Americans are a fairly enlightened bunch. We all have different ethnic, national, class, and religious backgrounds, and we all respect these differences. For all our care to make sure everyone feels included, how did we ever overlook the Arsenal Ladies?
Since their founding in 1987, the Arsenal Ladies FC have won almost as many trophies in less than twenty years as the Arsenal mens team has in the last one hundred or so years. The Ladies have 7 Premier League titles, 6 FA Cups, and 8 National League Cups, a haul which includes two Trebles. Though they?ve never reached the Women?s UEFA Cup final (no English club has, in fact) they have taken part in the tournament many times. The Ladies, managed by Vic Akers and captained by Faye White, are the current English title holders.
I think it is important we as Arsenal supporters pay more attention to this branch of the Arsenal. First and foremost, we should support them more simply because they are Arsenal, too! Many fanatical supporters go not only to all home and away games, but to reserve team fixtures as well. Supporters like this (I will be one of them, one day) say they do it out of love for their club. Well, if we love our club as much as we say we do, we should do a little more to support this segment of it. Of course, women?s football is not quite the same game as men?s football. There again, Arsenal mens football under Graham is not the same as the football of the Wenger era. But the same set of fans largely turned out for both types of the football, saying it didn?t matter what it looked like, so long as it was the Arsenal.
Another more cynical reason we should give a bit more support to the Ladies is because it will help the overall of the Arsenal Football Club. As I?ve argued earlier, part of what makes Arsenal attractive to supporters is the more inclusive atmosphere in its fan base. Through better support of the women?s team, we will likely win the hearts of young girls who play or are interested in football. Young women as a ?target market? have a potential so great that it cannot be overlooked. Some of these young women will later be season ticket holders at first team games; we have to make certain they are buying tickets at the Grove. We can do this by ourselves turning out to support their team, right now. And by supporting both the men?s and women?s teams, we as supporters will be doing our part to ensure the fan community that is the heart of the Arsenal football club will stay strong long into the future.
Women?s football is currently not, and may never be as, popular as men?s football. But that is sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy, isn?t it? Sort of like the place that no one goes to anymore because it?s so busy? Increased support for the Ladies can only be a good thing for Arsenal right now. They?re in top form, so you?re likely to see them dole out a thrashing to someone. It will help increase our fan base by helping make sure young women grow up to be Arsenal supporters, which not only helps sell season tickets, but also just makes the Arsenal an elite club; Barcelona sells itself as a proletarian club to appeal to romantic revolutionaries, why not the Arsenal make itself the feminist club? And besides, lads, they?re Arsenal. Just like us.