52 teams, 7 divisions, and two grassroots league of the year awards. Super 5 League is a small-sided phenomenon in East London. Charlotte Dukes tells The Grassroots Post all about it.
If you walk past Hackney’s Mabley Green on a weekday evening, you’ll witness a rare sight: four whole pitches solely occupied by women’s football teams. Now one of the biggest women’s footballing communities in the country, the story of the Super 5 League commenced in 2017 as the brainchild of Shahid Malji, who’d been approached by women in the community to provide the space and organisation for grassroots teams in Hackney. The league kicked off with a group of five local teams, and from that moment onwards, the Super 5 League has grown substantially, with forty-eight teams from all over London signed up for the Winter 2020 season.
Super 5’s popularity is embedded in the way it runs as a unique offering in women’s football. One of the fundamental elements of Super 5 League is its commitment to the spirit of grassroots football, where etiquette is favoured over results and where teams support each other, both on and off the pitch. As Sam North from Grassroots team South East Rangers notes, grassroots football is ‘a great way to keep in contact with mates, and a super relief from real life’. Likewise, Abi Ticehurst from S4K FC & Berks County Ladies observes that football is the sole time she can ‘press the pause button on the madness of the world, more so than ever this year, and just do something purely for my own pleasure’. At Super 5 League, we aim to support many of the players who lost touch or perhaps fell out of love with football over the years, and we are keen to become known as one of the most inclusive footballing communities in London. Capturing why they decided to opt for the Super 5 League, one of our new teams this season, Ex Girlfriend FC, told us:
‘We were super excited when a spot came up in the new beginners league and jumped at the opportunity to get involved. It’s got a reputation as one of the top grassroots leagues in East London, and where else can you get sweaty with a bunch of womxn in 2020? But seriously, the community spirit is next-level and we’ve had the warmest welcome from the organisers, refs, and other teams. We can’t wait to get back on that pitch!’
Further, Super 5 is an opportunity for women from all walks of life to connect up and advocate for causes they believe in. As founder Shahid remarks, ‘So much has come out the league. It’s not just football’. Super 5 team Brockwell United recently ran a fundraiser for the Housing for Women charity and Todo Ciuidad ran a ‘todo tour’ for Shelter From the Storm, London’s free homeless shelter, demonstrating that the community within the league extends far beyond the final whistle. The Super 5 League itself is actively fundraising for Girls of Golden Youth, the creation of a women’s footballing academy in Gambia. This emphasises the massive potential that grassroots football has in shifting and moulding the narrative of the women’s game and in the communities they operate within, which Super 5 League looks to support wherever it can.
We’re pleased to be growing, reaching new parts of London and surrounding areas as a league. For 2021, we are working on the launch of a girls’ league too, following the success of our women’s offering. Football is more than a game at Super 5, it’s a movement, and we’re very proud to be leading the charge.