International Women's Day 2024 - Manchester Laces

Feb 19, 2024

At Cloudwater, we have a diverse team consisting of 50% women who are involved in different areas of the business such as production, packaging, warehouse, retail, hospitality, and management. We value and celebrate the achievements of women as it is an essential part of our identity here at Cloudwater. On February 6th, we hosted an extraordinary brew day in honour of IWD 2024 and invited women from various Manchester organisations who have inspired and impacted us and their communities. Participants in the project include Flawd, Manchester Laces, Odd Arts, Eat Well, Isca, and other notable figures like Maxine Peake and Rivca Burns who attended the brew day..It was amazing to have everyone under one roof, and we cherish the result of the day which you might be holding in your hands right now. Enjoy!



What can you tell us about Manchester Laces?
Helen Hardy - We were formed by Helen Hardy in 2021 as a sister club to 3 London Laces footie clubs. We wanted to create an inclusive, kind, caring football space for women, non-binary and transgender participants and now, 3 years later, we’re the  largest women’s football club in the city of Manchester!
Donna - For me Manchester Laces were a savior for our team. We found ourselves without a club at the start of the season and Helen reached out to us, she gave us a home, kits, equipment and support. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of this club. We have now added some new players and have become Manchester Laces Black.

What does being an inclusive football team mean to you?
Helen Hardy - It means everyone is invited to the party. It means everyone feels they have a space to be authentically themselves. It means everyone is given equal opportunity and they can decide how much they want to push themselves! We have football teams from absolute beginner adults all the way to division 1 adult teams. There’s something for everyone!
Donna - I think Helen has pretty much got this spot on! Football should be available to anybody regardless of age, gender or ability. There should be no boundaries.

What’s the next big fight for equality in women’s football?
Helen Hardy - Equity. As we see the dial turn on women’s football it’s imperative we keep it fair for athletes and participants. For instance, if 25% of the amateur football world is female participants then we need 25% of the space (which isn’t the case at the moment where women struggle to get safe footballing space)
Donna - for me Equality, women's football has come a long way since I was a young girl growing up and not being able to play football in school. I'm hoping it will continue to grow at this level and with the likes of Mary Earps speaking out and receiving the recognition she has
will only help.

Can you share your earliest sports-related memory?
Helen- I remember seeing no women in football and my hero’s growing up were the Newcastle United men’s team. My first ever game was a thrilling 5-0 win against Manchester United and I fell madly in love with football. My earliest memories of women’s football was when my dad gave me a cutout of a newspaper article about Kelly Smith. I remember thinking it was so cool that she played football against all odds!
Donna - My brother taking me to Old Trafford for the first time, I would have been around 8 and this is the day I fell in love with football and Manchester United. We waited after the game at the players entrance and I recall Sir Matt Busby walking out, and everyone just stood and applauded, my brother said don’t you dare, but I dared and I ran over and he was only too happy to give me his autograph.

Dead or alive, fictional or real: which sports personality do you relate to the most and Why?
Helen - I see Rapinoe as a real trailblazer on and off the pitch. I feel like we both have the same relationship to honesty. I just can’t hide how I feel and I’m passionate about speaking my truth. She’s changed the game for women in sport as well as pioneering for LGBTQ+ people. I see her as a real inspiration.
Donna - Bryan Robson was my first idol. He defines a true leader, strong. focussed, team player and leader. Quiet but never to be underestimated. Firm but fair.

What's your favourite thing about Manchester?

Helen - The football culture. It really is the capital of football and there’s always something to see and do in terms of sport. I’m not from Manchester originally but I can’t think of anywhere else in the UK where my idea of launching an inclusive football club would’ve been welcomed so much. It feels possible to do anything here!
Donna - It has to be Manchester United, but also I would say it's true we are much friendlier up
north :-)

What can the public do to help grassroots teams such as yourselves?
Helen - Support with accessibility by writing to councils to create more safe spaces, give cash to local teams to allow free spaces to participants, come down and cheer the team on or buy a jersey that gives proceeds to the clubs!

If you want a Manchester Laces shirt or merch it’s on

How did Manchester Laces start?
Helen - covered above.

What's been the highlight of your career so far?
Helen - covered below in success story
Donna - In my first year as a coach we lost out on winning the league by one point to an established University team and won two tournaments. Being involved in women's football and Manchester Laces is an absolute dream.

If you wanted to join Manchester Laces, how would you go about it?
Helen - We have so many different offerings! Head to the website to find out what we have on offer across the week!

How many people are part of the Manchester Laces community?
Helen - At the moment there’s 170+ full members and over 750 participants in our ad-hoc and casual sessions.

What's women's football bringing to Manchester that men's football doesn’t?
Helen - inclusion, good vibes, no lad culture, positive support and life outside of just the football (we don’t just play football, we create communities together)
Donna - For me I definitely think women stay on their feet much more, there is no rolling around on the pitch. Team support, everybody had each others back, more of a family.

What is the most special thing about grassroots football to you?
Helen - It’s my people so it’s literally my whole life. It’s my friendship circle, my family away from home. It’s everything.
Donna - being surrounded by like minded people who share the love of football.

What's the biggest success story that you've seen?
Helen - We’ve won two national awards as club of the year in our short 3 years. We’ve become a local institution and I love how often our kit is recognised by random strangers! Truly iconic!

Donna - That women's football is starting to fill stadiums and getting the recognition it rightly

blue or red?
Helen - Black and white!!! But if I had to choose it would be City
Donna - Without a doubt Red. Manchester United is in my DNA.

Where do you see Manchester Laces in 10 years?
Helen - We’ll be the largest grassroots club in the country with access points for all.

What’s your connection to Cloudwater?
Donna - Natalie who works for Cloudwater is a player for our Manchester Laces Black Team and what a character she is. She entertains us with her dry sense of humor and can always be heard chatting to herself whilst playing a game.

Proper DIPA

Our 8th DIPA in our  Proper DIPA series is out this week, called Proper DIPA NZ edition, a perfect example of the beautiful things that happen when modern meets tradition.We've infused Southern Cross and NZ Cascade to accentuate the JW Lees yeast strain.This DIPA excels in both body and hop intensity, delivering a hearty hop medley characterised by quintessential NZ hop aromas of white grape, all culminating in an exceptionally dank finish.Enjoyed in the video by JW Lees brewer Matthew and available in our webshop now. 

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