Shelley Hague is a women’s football evangelist.
She is chairwoman of Arbroath FC Community Trust and a former footballer who played for the Barry girl’s team in the 1990s and lifted the North East Scotland Cup.
Her role with the Red Lichties has given her a special insight into the benefits of football for women and girls which go far beyond the pitch.
The 39-year-old said her women’s and girl’s teams have been wholeheartedly embraced by local people.
She said: “We now have around 60 girls playing for us. We are very much embedded in the community so we haven’t had any negative feedback.”
Shelley was disappointed at our survey findings which showed women and girls suffered abuse and harassment for playing football.
‘Football can be a great force for good’
Shelley said trolls had to be given the boot. She added: “We post a lot of pictures of the girls and women playing and there is never anything negative on there so that is heartening.
“I am aware there is that negative side as well, perhaps more at the national level. I would hate for that to creep in here and put people off.
“If you get trolled based on one performance and decide to call it a day – that would be a real shame to the game and that person’s life.
“It is so disappointing to see that. To have someone turn on you because of your gender is absolutely unacceptable.”
Shelley – who works as the council’s interim service leader in policy and partnerships as well as her role at Arbroath – has been involved in supporting social enterprise, attracting funding into the area and making Angus a more alluring place for investment.
She added: “Football can be a great force for good. You can learn all sorts of skills – team work, leadership, problem solving.
“Now, football can also be a career for women.”
Anyone who witnesses sexist abuse, harassment or discrimination, can report it in a number of ways.
You can report discrimination within Scottish grassroots football to the Scottish Football Association.
Or search for Scottish FA Grassroots in Google Play or App store.
Also, the Her Game Too anti-sexism campaign has an anonymous online form.
If you feel the form of discrimination you witnessed either on the pitch or online could be a hate crime, you may also report it to Police Scotland via 101.
Read more from this series
- Women in football: Our survey reveals scale of sexist abuse facing those who love the game
- Sophie Goodwin: I was too scared to call out abuse in women’s football before. But that’s what I’m doing now
- Georgia Carter: Online abuse has to be taken seriously for women’s football to grow
- Arbroath Community Sports Club Girls is real labour of love for founder Ellie
- Dave Lord: It is down to everyone involved in women’s football at every level to help ensure the future is far brighter
- ‘People watch Emma Raducanu play other young female tennis players and nobody compares it to the men’s game’
- Elsie Cook: We have to speak out against sexists. We can’t let them win
Words and interviews by Sophie Goodwin and Stephen Stewart
Story design by Cheryl Livingstone
Graphics by Carly Gilchrist
Data visualisations by Emma Morrice
Video by Drew Farrell, Kim Cessford and Gregor Aiken
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