Women’s football in England has always been defined by perseverance.
At every step of its existence women's football has faced opposition, from the everyday soccer fan dismissing the sport as inferior, to lack of funding, to the 50-year outright ban put in place by the very organization in charge of it. And yet at every level the players, and thus the sport, have stood firm.
An investigative documentary from Fleur Cousens and Mahalia John, called “Who Moved The Goalposts?”, has spent the last 10 months exploring this struggle through interviews with female footballers, coaches, fans, and more — all people who have been fighting for their place in a “man’s game” and, in that, who have been fighting to change that very notion. The documentary covers the history of women's football to where these players, coaches, and fans will take it in the future.
Cousens and John are tightly woven into this fight, not just by exposing the inequality through this documentary but as female footballers themselves. Both Cousens, the producer, and John, the director of photography, have played for the London-based GLWFL Division 3 North side AFC Stoke Newington.
Cousens set up another London club, Goal Diggers FC, in September 2016 for the same reason she went on to produce this documentary. In an interview with Kick It Out, Cousens talks about football being “available to all” as one of the most basic steps to challenging the idea of football as a male sport; that means both encouraging young girls to continue playing as well as making clubs financially available with low membership costs. The latter was the path Cousens followed with Goal Diggers and at the time of the interview — 6 months after the club’s founding — it had already accrued 60 members.
However, there is still much work to be done. As many of the women Cousens and John interview explain, the most common response to them saying they’re a female footballer is patronization — from “oh, good for you!” to something as bad as “do you know how to play?”
With the right coverage and understanding of the sport, like with as thorough an expose as “Who Moved The Goalposts?”, hopefully someday soon people will stop responding to female footballers with incredulity.
Currently, “Who Moved The Goalposts?” needs funding to take the next step to becoming a reality, from accessing archival footage to purchasing equipment and editing software. To help support this important documentary, donate to their IndieGoGo here.