“Do you actually like football, or are you just pretending that you do?”

I think it’s the way they say “pretending” that riles me up.

I mean, people would think I’d fake passion to fit in?

Don’t even get me started on the looks they give me when I try and talk tactics or upcoming fixtures.

Sadly, I am not alone, and my alienation is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to women and sport in the 21st century.

Why do people feel the need to test me over my “credentials” of knowledge just because I am a female interested in sport?

Sometimes I feel sorry for myself.

But then I think about the Liverpool Women’s team who are forced to trudge to horrible Tranmere and play on the muddiest ground in England, while their male counterparts are afforded all the riches that football has to offer.

Sometimes I feel sorry for myself.

But then I think about the US Women’s Soccer team who are paid less than their male counterparts despite winning every competition they have ever entered.

Sometimes I feel sorry for myself.

But then I think about the Middle Eastern countries which don’t allow women the right to spectate sport, let alone participate.

Sometimes I feel sorry for myself.

Then Ben Rothenberg, the tennis correspondent for the New York Times, tells me about male players who have said that they would rather be paid “nothing” then be paid the same as women.

But then I talk to Maggie Murphy, who told me that a sister can grow up in the same house as her brother, with the same passion and be told they are not as valued, simply because she is female.

Maggie herself is a pioneer – a woman on a mission. Her Lewes side are the only team in the world to pay their men and women’s team the same. This sends not only a strong message to players who must feel so valued at the WSL club, but also fans. Equality and parity are invaluable lessons and wider society must heed these powerful actions if real change is to come about.

The trickle-down effect that I feel when talking to men about sport can be exonerated from the example set by Lewes. If more clubs adopt this approach then my enthusiasm and passion will not make me feel ostracised due to the fact that I am a woman.

Speaking to both Maggie and Ben did put things into more context for me. Both Ben’s tennis and Maggie’s football have attitudes to change and rights to wrong.

Advertising companies see men has having more “buying power” Ben says, hence why Roger Federer earns four times as much as Serena Williams per year.

The FA Cup prize money for men is 30 times larger than the prize money for women.

Does any of this seem fair?

Having only been a sports fan for a few years, this is all new to me. The gap has been oh-so-wide for such a long time that closing it could take decades.

But there are moves to close it and all I can do is hope…


And wait.

Maybe one day I won’t feel sorry for myself.

And neither will female athletes.