GSN is proud to be the new nutrition partner of Lewes F.C. – the world’s first gender-equal football club.
We spoke to The Rooks’ Commercial Manager, Stef McLoughlin, to learn about the football revolution happening on the south coast…
Lewes F.C. Women are hitting the big time. This March, the team faces Manchester United in the Quarter-Finals of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup, in what will be the highest-profile game in the club’s 138-year history. Fans who can’t get tickets for the tie at Lewes’ stadium, ‘The Dripping Pan’, will be able to watch live coverage on the BBC.
The Rooks’ thrilling FA Cup run hasn’t come out of nowhere. Years of hard-earned improvement have seen the club climb the football pyramid to the Women’s Championship. They now have their sights set on promotion to the pinnacle of the sport: the Women’s Super League.
According to Commercial Manager, Stef McLoughlin, Lewes’ success has been made possible by the club’s pioneering gender-equal approach.
“We’re the first football club in the world that pays its men and women equally, and shares its resources equally,” Stef told GSN.
“Women train and play on the same pitch as the men, which is quite unusual in this country, and everything that comes into the club is shared equally.”
The Rooks’ inspirational approach to gender equality makes us extra-proud to reveal that GSN is teaming up with Lewes F.C. as a nutrition partner. We’ll be supplying our healthy Pot O Gold ready meals to the women’s team, as well as providing nutrition products for the men’s team and backroom staff.
According to Stef, the GSN meals have already made a difference to Lewes F.C. Women.
“The players feel a lot more confident after eating GSN, because they know they’re eating nutritious food,” she says.
“GSN has been the perfect product to professionalise our eating. It gives us the possibility to keep everybody really nourished, in a streamlined, cost-effective way.
“We won like six matches in a row, the second they started eating GSN!”
Naturally, we’re chuffed that our meals are going down a treat with the team. We hear that the Breaded Chicken Katsu Curry is top of the table at the moment!
Lewes F.C. are playing for bigger wins than any individual football match.
“Our main focus is gender equality in football, and we’ve been campaigning for it for quite a few years,” says Stef.
The club’s campaign has helped secure an increase in prize money for women’s teams in the FA Cup. Whereas Lewes F.C. would have won £3,000 for reaching the Quarter-Finals in the 2021/22 season, this year the club pocketed £20,000.
“The sad thing is, if we had been men we would have won £220,000. So that’s the disparity.” Stef explains.
For the next week, Lewes will be focused on their upcoming clash with Manchester United. After the final whistle, the campaign for gender equality will fire back up, online, in the community and in the boardroom.
Equality for women footballers has made Lewes F.C. famous. However, it turns out that this is not the only issue within the game that the club is pushing to resolve.
Many of the players in The Rooks’ women’s team are very young, including teenage loanees Kenzie Weir (from parent club Everton), Charlotte Wardlow and Emma Thompson (both from Chelsea).
“One of the reasons why we excel with young players is that we put ‘person before player’”, says Stef,
“We think of their mental health, their growth as people, their development, and we put that before football.”
Even though Lewes F.C. is a relatively small club, the players can rely upon a full-time Welfare Officer, and a Head of Development, Kelly Lindsey, who is strongly focused on mental health and the players’ psychological development.
According to Stef, the club’s people-focused approach makes all the difference to young players’ wellbeing.
“Dealing with people’s expectations and sometimes losing in front of people is an extremely stressful situation for a young person to be in. So, we’ve made Lewes F.C. a safe space – not just for the players, but for everyone who works here. It’s a bit of a utopia!”, she says.
Lewes F.C. are striving to shake up the game of football one step at a time, both on the field and off it.
“We’re progressing slowly with the support of our partners, our fans and everybody who’s investing their time and their money with us. We’ll carry on doing what we’re doing, carry on campaigning, and try to change not only us but the football landscape in the UK – that’s our main goal.”
Lewes F.C. is an absolute inspiration to all of us here at GSN. We’re beyond proud to know that our meals are now playing a part in helping the club to progress on the pitch, while they continue to fight for the cause of equality in football.
We’ll be following Lewes’ journey closely, as nutrition partners and as fans. And when we shout ‘Come On You Rooks!’, we’ll be cheering on much more than just a football team.
Lewes F.C. Women play Manchester United in the Quarter-Finals of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup at 14:00 on 19 March 2023. Read more about the club’s approach to gender equality, and watch the Lewes F.C. documentary on YouTube.