By Faye Hackwell
Personal experiences of sexism as both a female football player and a fan inspired Hannah Crossley to become Her Game Too’s new Rotherham United Ambassador. Her own playing career was cut short by injury, but Hannah wants to use her experiences to help promote football as a game for all by encouraging women and girls of all ages to enjoy watching and taking part in the sport.
Hannah was playing for Rotherham United Ladies when she suffered a serious knee injury in 2016. “I tore my ACL in my left knee and my meniscus and was rehabbed for two years,” she recalls.
"I came back, six games back and two minutes off the bench, I did my other ACL on my right knee. “That was in 2018 and I’ve not played since.” Although Hannah was told there was a chance she’d be able to play again, she would have required further lengthy rehabilitation, which, coupled with the fear of repeating the injuries, led to her making the tough decision to stop playing.
But she has continued to follow Rotherham United as a fan and has many happy memories of supporting the club over the last 11 years. “As soon as I started watching Rotherham, I felt at home.
“As a supporter, we’ve had some ups and downs - the ups being the play off finals against Leyton Orient and Shrewsbury, promotion day at Gillingham in 2022 and the Papa John’s trophy win at Wembley that season was also quality. “We’ve had some great times and staying in the Championship last season was also an amazing achievement.”
But despite her many positive experiences of following and playing for her club, Hannah has both witnessed and been personally subjected to gender discrimination in football. “As a female footballer, I would always get comments like ‘only lesbians play football’, ‘it’s a man’s game' or ‘you’re offside if you’re not in the kitchen’. “At games, I’ve seen sexism towards female officials in the professional game, with sexist remarks and chants made towards them because they’re female. These negative incidents inspired Hannah to become the club’s ambassador for Her Game Too.
“I believe that all women and girls should be able to attend football games at any club and not face sexism.
“I was very excited to join Her Game Too as an ambassador, along with Abbie, to continue the great work the campaign has achieved. “Hopefully we can bring in new ideas and events to raise even more awareness of Her Game Too and hopefully grow the team by adding some more ambassadors.” Hannah would love to see Her Game Too continue to expand into more clubs and leagues as the campaign continues to gain momentum. “We’ve made amazing strides in the last couple of years and, if we keep going the way we are going, we will continue to grow as a campaign and the message and awareness should increase.”