AFC Unity is a multi award-winning, purely independent women’s football club and social enterprise based in Sheffield, UK, providing opportunities for both beginner-level (via Solidarity Soccer) and advanced women footballers (via our 11-a-side first team) in our passing-orientated, positive playing style, while utilising the sport for positive social change and remaining linked to – and active in – the local community.
One of the few of its kind to have been created as a women’s team without being supported by a pre-existing men’s team, AFC Unity was founded by Jay Baker and Jane Watkinson in 2014 in the birthplace of association football itself – Sheffield – as an alternative football club to utilise their dedication to feminism and social justice in combination with their passion for the sport to make a positive contribution in the local community. Both have extensive experience in the community sector, running numerous projects in South Yorkshire for several years. Now essentially run by the first team players themselves, AFC Unity is one of the few football clubs to be so democratic and transparent – as a legally registered not-for-profit company.
The club name harks back to the original term Assoc. Football (or “soccer” for short), as an association football club, adopting the colour red to represent socially progressive ideals, and as a homage to Sheffield’s historic Sheffield FC, the world’s oldest club, as well as the surrounding South Yorkshire towns of Barnsley, Doncaster, and Rotherham, whose major teams also play in red. “Unity” speaks for itself: it represents the ethos of the club as utilising the unifying power of the sport and the spirit of solidarity.
The club has achieved The FA Charter Standard Adult Club status and has been awarded the 2015/2016 FA Club Respect Award, took Bronze in Sports England’s Satellite Club of the Year Awards, were runners-up in the Most Innovative Organisation category at the VAS Make a Difference Awards were recipients of the Sports Personality Award at the South Yorkshire LGBT+ Awards as well as earning the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA’s Grassroots Project of the Year Award for Football for Food.
Mission statement: AFC Unity is an alternative football club for women, focused on bringing the game back to its grass-roots as a uniting force, bringing people together for the love of the game beyond vested interests and the influence of profit. AFC Unity focuses on women, as they have been historically excluded, and aims to produce and promote positive role models.
Vision: AFC Unity envision a society where the football club plays an active role in its community, engaging and empowering women as positive role models, and using the sport to encourage unity, solidarity, and social cohesion.
Empowering women – by engaging women in football and encouraging development – regardless of background, experience or ability – and by presenting positive women role models, working with the community
Tackling misconceptions – by challenging sexism and preconceived notions around areas such as gender, sexuality, race, religion, and age, and promoting women’s football as a grassroots sport dedicated to the non-profit ethos
Promoting social justice – by using football as a tool to bring communities together, developing a positive ethos and identity for the club
Opposing oppression – by empowering women to challenge the sport’s image as a man’s game, engage in community activities, fundraising for good causes, and campaigning on important issues
You can become a member of AFC Unity Ultras, our supporters group, for £2.00 (or £1.50 with trade union discount) a month to help support the club – read more about this here.