England captain Leah Williamson unveils a new mural of Manchester Laces founder Helen Hardy, celebrating safe sporting spaces and honouring inclusivity in women’s football.
Earlier this year, the England Lionesses brought it home with a sensational UEFA Women’s Euros 2022 win.
Under the guidance of Sarina Wiegman, not only did Williamson and co. make history, but they also increased exposure to women’s football and showed that this is just the beginning for women in sports.
However, winning hasn’t seen Williamson resting on her laurels.
Leah Williamson wants to drive women’s sport forward
In numerous interviews with Women’s Hour, The Independent and British GQ she’s spoken about how “football is everyone’s game”.
She’s also discussed inclusivity becoming a priority in women’s football. According to Sky Sports, her main goal is to “use her platform as England captain to be a force for good”.
Now, the Arsenal defender is making good on her word by unveiling a mural of Manchester Laces’ founder, Hardy.
What is Manchester Laces?
Manchester Laces is Manchester’s first-ever inclusive women’s and non-binary football club. It was set up by Hardy in 2021 with the aim of the club being to create an inclusive space for footballers who identify as women and as non-binary.
Since its conception last year, Manchester Laces now has five teams with more than 500 players and coaches. According to Stylist, “a tenth of the club is currently made up of transgender and non-binary players.”
Hardy set up Manchester Laces thanks to the help of National Lottery funding.
The new mural of Hardy sits on Wembley Park’s Spanish Steps. This is a popular contemporary canvas that has previously held art by Frank Styles and Remi Rough.
What better place to display a homage to inclusivity than the place where the Lionesses changed everything?
What did Helen Hardy say about the mural?
According to Women’s Health, Hardy said, “I’m delighted to be involved in this important project and honoured to be featured on the steps of such an iconic venue for football, ahead of the World Cup,
‘The Women’s Euros this year showed how far football has come in its support of women’s role in the sport,” she continued. “The support of The National Lottery is vital in helping projects like Manchester Laces come to fruition.’
As per Stylist, Hardy also said that she hopes the mural, “empowers more people to think that maybe they can launch their own club, pull together their own five-a-side team or step into football for the first time,”
“Sport has changed my life and I feel like it can change so many lives.”
Leah Williamson wants to champion women’s sport
Williamson, who unveiled the artwork echoed Hardy’s statements. Talking to Stylist, she said, “I’m so proud to be a part of a project that champions women in football, something incredibly close to my heart and central to my life.
“Everything that we should champion in women’s sport is to be whom you want to be and who you are without any judgment.
“It feels incredible to be celebrating that,” she said.
National Lottery players raise £30m a week for good causes across the UK, including projects such as Manchester Laces.
Charlotte Archer has brought the mural of Hardy to life. You can view it now at Wembley Park.
Featured image credit:National Lottery