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Celebrating International Women's Day

We hear from some of the women who have done and continue to do incredible work for the club.

Women from across the Bristol Sport group have been discussing the environment they work in, the changing face of sport, challenging stereotypes and their positive impacts in a series of interviews for International Women's Day 2021.

Watch: Choose to Challenge - International Women's Day 2021

Marina Dolman, Club President

"I’ve been with the club since I married my husband (Harry Dolman) in 1961. When he died, I became president of the supporters club and then following that in 1997 I was invited to be club president which I’ve been for the last 20 years.

“You have to accept the difficulties in the beginning. When I first joined Bristol City the ladies weren’t allowed in the Boardroom for example. So Harry asked me to have the ladies room on the side of the Boardroom and entertain the ladies. And that’s when I first joined Bristol City that was my job

“And from then of course over the years ladies were allowed in the Boardroom and I began to greet the directors as well as their wives which was splendid.

“I never really felt I should challenge too much and I’ve always felt that women could do any job just as well as men anyway. I mean after all we have a queen on the throne we’ve had women prime ministers and prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand so we’re very slowly getting there.

Emma Jolliffe, Bristol City Academy Operations Manager

“I think I would challenge myself not to fall into the stereotypes that people may perceive. To other clubs some people may see a small blonde woman who assume I don’t know what I’m taking about or I’m there to make cups of tea. I do find myself giggling along and not challenging.

“I do know what “’m doing, I’m an important member of the team and sometimes I find myself falling by the wayside, so I challenge myself to stand tall and take that behaviour.

“The professionalism of Suz (Suzanne Tarring-Coombs) as well has led to the men above her show her respect which in turns has helped pave the way for me.”

Suzanne Tarring-Coombs, Operations Manager

“I would say be yourself, challenge those stereotypes of women in football and those are changing now. I’ve been in the job many years and in the beginning there were many women who I look at now and I think were you just emulating what you thought you had to be, that you weren’t being yourself?

“It’s been a hard journey to be myself, to make people listen to me as I feel sometimes my voice isn’t heard and it’s really difficult. I’ve discovered in saying not so much you can have as much impact as if you shout and scream or raise your voice. I just want to challenge those stereotypes and say to anyone ‘no matter who you are, your personality, how you dress or what your politics are, there’s a role in sport for you.’”

“We want that diversity to come in and for future generations to have that diversity, to come in and challenge the ideas which are deep-rooted in football.”

Gill Holt, First Team Physiotherapist

“I’ve been here quite a while having started in 1998. I’ve been coming back between full-time and part-time while having my children. The environment has changed very much from when I first started. Things used to be quite difficult back in the early days, for example I always remember when we played Swansea away there was no women’s changing room, no women’s toilet so I remember Shaun Taylor propping the door open so I could change in the men’s single toilet.

“There’s one thing that everyone at the training ground always says to me and that’s when anyone calls you ’ladies’ and I say ‘no, it’s women’ so now whenever they go to say it, they look at me and they say ‘no, women it’s the women’ so I’m like ‘good for you!’

Jemma Purfield, Bristol City Women Defender

“It’s exciting if anything, because we have never had as big of a platform as this. Being a professional footballer as a woman wasn’t a thing before so it’s really exciting for the women’s game and we’re relishing the chance to have that spotlight and inspire the next generation.

“It’s a challenge to us as professionals to carry on being role models, to make sure that every little girl knows that they can aspire to be anything they want to be and have a dream, no matter how big, that they can achieve it.

“We’ve got to keep challenging ourselves to push that and make sure anyone believes they can achieve what they want.”

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