Blazing a trail for women’s football the Tarmac way

May 13, 2022

A women’s team made their own piece of history when they lifted the silverware in the Tarmac annual football tournament.

It was the first time a UK company had fielded a women’s competition at St George’s Park – the Football Association’s national training centre and home of the England football team.

More than 90 Tarmac employees lined up in teams from throughout the UK to take part in the second annual 5-a-side competition at the facility near Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire.
Midlands beat the North & Scotland in a hard-fought final while, in the men’s tournament, East Midlands & East Anglia beat off the challenge from the North West region to claim the trophy.

The women’s competition also saw young mum Gabrielle Fairweather – a sales supervisor in Tarmac’s Birtley office – play, despite having had a baby only earlier this year. She was awarded Player of the Tournament, for turning out in the North & Scotland squad.

Ladies’ winning captain Erica Kilby, who three years ago was the sole woman to play in the annual tournament before Covid interrupted play, was delighted at the turnout of women this year.

“When I was invited in 2019 to play in the tournament, I only dreamt of there being a women’s competition but, now it is a reality, we want to grow stronger and get more representation from women in the business,” said Erica, whose passion for the game was honed while playing for Leicester City Ladies.

“I’m really proud that the women’s game is growing across the world and, if we can mirror that at Tarmac in the coming years, it will be fantastic. I’d love it if we could form a Tarmac team to play other companies in the construction world.”

The tournament gave the players a chance to rub shoulders with some of the game’s illustrious elite. Former managers Ian Holloway (Leicester City, Blackpool, and Crystal Palace to name a few) and Martin O’Neill (Aston Villa, Celtic and the Republic of Ireland), and player Fabrice Muamba (Arsenal, Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers and England) were among the star professionals assigned to each team as coach.

Jamie Skipper, GRS rail general manager, said: “It was brilliant to meet and compete with colleagues from across the business, and a huge privilege to share the facilities that have been used by some of football’s greatest players.”

Graeme Boylen, Tarmac’s HR director and keen footballer who turned out for the North & Yorkshire, said: “It was a hugely enjoyable day and congratulations to everyone that took part. I’m very proud that we are the first company to ever hold a ladies’ tournament at this iconic venue and equally proud that the competition was played in such fantastic spirit by everyone.

“I’m sure that many lasting friendships and memories were made. Special congratulations to the deserved winners of both competitions.”

Top: The Midlands – winners of the women’s competition with football manager Ian Holloway, and (above) the winning men’s team East Midlands & East Anglia.