Women Working in Football - Manchester City Photographer Victoria Haydn
Whilst coverage of women’s football has increased in recent years, what often goes unnoticed are the hundreds of women who play a vital role in the day-to-day functions of professional clubs.
In a brand new feature series, Kick It Out will be speaking to women who work within football – in a number of roles including coaching, club executives, photographers, administrators, matchday staff and more – to celebrate and gain an insight into their contributions to the professional game.
The feature will discuss their experiences of the game, how they reached where they are today and any challenges they may have faced along the way.
First up, Kick It Out spoke to Victoria Haydn, who was recently appointed Senior Club Photographer at Manchester City, about her passion for photography, football and her desire to see gender equality in the workplace.
Although photography runs in the family for Victoria, it was not until she went to college that she realised it would be her true calling.
She recalled: “I had access to all of my dad’s lenses and camera equipment, because he was a photographer and still is. I fell in love with it straightaway and I knew it was definitely what I wanted to do.
“The whole process from start to finish where you’re in a dark room, loading up your camera and at the end of it, you develop a photo to the perfect black and white that you want. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a photographer.”
Victoria went on to a photography degree before applying for a job as an intern photographer at Manchester City. Four years and three promotions later, she is now a Senior Club Photographer – one of the few women in that role across the Premier League.
She reflected on her time with the Citizens: “My whole experience has been incredible – I’ve been lucky enough to work with an amazing media team here, as well as everyone else across the board. Manchester City is like a big family club and I think on so many different levels it’s inclusive for everyone.
“I’ve honestly never felt like a lesser person or heard ‘oh my god she’s a woman’ – it’s never really been highlighted but I think that was always my outlook. Because I’ve always seen myself as an equal, I’ve never had to feel like a secondary citizen or been made to feel like the ‘woman’ in the crowd. I’ve just got on with it.”
Victoria added: “I’ve not had a bad experience. I know a lot of women could have had a different experience but as far as it goes, I have been really lucky.”
Nevertheless, she wants to encourage more women to work in football and help break down barriers within the game.
“I think that it’s a shift in thought process that’s needed with each generation,” Victoria asserted. “It is getting better but it’s the casual remarks that people don’t realise they’re making. You know – ‘you kick like a girl’ or ‘stop being a big girl’s blouse’.
“The whole ‘kick like a girl’ phrase – I mean, have you seen our women’s team?!”
Victoria’s point is a valid one – Manchester City Women have enjoyed a wonderful year, winning the Continental Cup for the second time in three years, before securing their first Women’s Super League title in September.
“I find the women so inspiring,” she said. “Steph Houghton is such a great leader and so are Karen Bardsley, Jill Scott and Toni Duggan. I’m so proud of our women’s team.
Victoria explained how invested she was in their success: “It can be really difficult as a photographer because you become so close to the team and so close to the individuals that you do get emotionally involved in it because you care about other people.”
The leadership skills of one player in particular comes as no surprise. Toni Duggan is one of Kick It Out’s ‘Next 20’ Ambassadors and Victoria praised the work she does with the organisation.
“I think that it’s massively important because she is a huge role model and a fantastic athlete for Manchester City and for her country. Equality and inclusion should be something that is part of every child and human being’s life, and I think if Toni can be a spokesperson for that and support Kick It Out’s messages, it’s a great thing.”
Victoria hopes that her own success at a leading club can encourage others to pursue a career of their own within football.
She said: “I learned at a really young age that you’ve got to work hard – no-one’s ever going to do the work for you, so you’ve got to put in the long nights and you’ve got to learn your subject inside out.
“I’m comfortable learning new ways of doing things photographically and digitally, but you’ve got to keep up with current trends. I hope other photographers want to get involved in sports photography and I hope that I could be a role model for anyone – not just women, but for anyone getting into a sports environment or sports photography.”
Photo credits: Tom Flathers and Sharon Latham