Oldham Athletic fan transforms female fan experience at non-league level

Alison Schofield was named William Hill Fan of the Year at the Non-League Paper's National Game Awards

By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat

Oldham fanatic Alison Schofield has scooped a national award after revolutionising the female fan experience at non-league level.

Alison Schofield is one of the pioneers of the Her Game Too campaign and picked up the William Hill Fan of the Year award at the Non-League Paper’s National Game Awards, in association with Isuzu.

Schofield combines her love of the Latics with travelling home and away to watch the England men’s side and says there is still a way to go to ensure football culture is inclusive of women and girls of all ages.

“Unfortunately, I still get so many comments about my motives for watching men’s football,” she said.

“I am always asked who I am going to watch and who my favourite player is because of their looks rather than their talent.

“I have faced so much abuse and I know that some girls are experiencing it to a worse degree than I have, and I do not want that.

“I want to prevent it and I want everybody to go to a football game and enjoy it.”

Schofield was around six weeks old when she was first taken to Boundary Park and her passion for the game has extended far beyond the pitch.

She has been instrumental as a volunteer ambassador for Her Game Too, which was founded two years ago due to the sexist abuse female football fans suffered online and in stadiums.

Oldham are setting the pace when it comes to reforms, with free sanitary products available for supporters and a live reporting system in place to take action against any kind of abuse.

“We know there was an incident where a woman was spat on because she was watching and giving her opinion on a game,” said Schofield.

“That’s unacceptable and that’s what we’re trying to tackle and make everyone feel safe.

“The campaign is still in the raising awareness stage. The next step is focusing on education and trying to give back to grassroots clubs to help young girls with their coaching, training and any equipment they need. We really want to help children play.”

Schofield lived up to her billing as fan of the year, going to great lengths to attend the Awards held at AFC Wimbledon’s Plough Lane home.

“We couldn’t get a train, it was really expensive and then a nightmare to get there and impossible with the time scale I had,” she said.

“We then looked at flying but the flight was cancelled when we got to the airport so we had to get the first flight on the morning of the awards.

“I got ready at the airport hotel and then headed straight to the ground - but it’s all worth it.”

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