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Women's Football News
The world of sport was saddened this week with the news that England women's cricket legend, and pioneer of the women's game, Rachael Hayhoe-Flint has passed away at the age of 77.
However it was not just the game of cricket that benefitted from Rachael's presence, but she was also heavily involved in football. She was a director of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and also a member of the board at Wolves Women FC, always taking a healthy interest in the club. Wolves Women Chairperson Jenny Wilkes has kindly penned the following tribute to someone whose contribution to women's sport, both on and off the field of play, can never be underestimated:
I was devastated to hear of the death of Rachael Heyhoe Flint - a good friend and colleague who played such a key role in the development of Wolves Girls and Women.
I first met Rachael in the 1990s, when I was a radio presenter at BBC WM and Rachael was looking after public relations and community work for Wolves - my club! She was always such a ball of energy, leaving a whirlwind in her wake as she dashed around the place, organising, introducing, sorting, helping.
She was a prolific fund-raiser, supporting numerous charities and individuals, and she helped set up and run Wolves' own charity Wolves Aid.
At the time, the women's football club was a separate entity. It had been granted permission by Wolves to use its name, but it was completely self-supporting and struggling to survive. When I took over as Chair in 1999, Rachael was the first person I turned to for help.
By this time she was a Director at Wolves, sitting on the board alongside club owner Sir Jack Hayward - the man she had persuaded to sponsor the England Women's cricket team back in 1970. With an illustrious career behind her, captaining her country to victory in the 1973 cricket World Cup, she knew all about the struggles of women in male-dominated sports.
We think we face chauvinism today, but Rachael used to tell me about her battle to be admitted to the male-only MCC. She was not deterred by the "grumpy old men" and achieved a real victory for sports women everywhere when she became the first woman elected to the MCC committee in 2004. She laughed off the rude and objectionable comments, and breezed her way through until they had to submit!
Rachael joined the board at Wolves Women, and was a great support, with help, advice, and a softly-softly approach which saw us gradually accepted into the Wolves fold. At home games she'd be seen walking her dog around the perimeter of the pitch, shouting her support as she went.
With Wolves Girls and Women now firmly part of the club, that seems like a lifetime ago. Wolves Community Trust has taken us on board, and we now run an FA Regional Talent Centre for girls, as well as an Under 18s and senior side. I can't begin to say what a key role Rachael played in all this - forging the way for us and sportswomen everywhere.
We'll be holding a minute's silence in honour of Rachael at Sunday's Birmingham County Cup game against The University of Warwick Students at Hednesford Town FC, 2pm kick off.
Rachel - we salute you. Wolves ay we!
Our thanks to Jenny and our deepest sympathy and thoughts are with the family and friends of one of women's sports' larger-than-life personalities.
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