You’ve probably seen my recent announcement that my company, Technology and Society, is the Platinum Sponsor for London Seaward FC, a women’s football club playing in the English National League Division 1 South East.
Photo credit: TouchTight Media
You might ask: Why in the world would a writer who lives in Portland, Oregon, USA sponsor a women’s football (soccer) team based in Waltham Forest, East London?
First off, fair question. There’s no single, straightforward answer, but my decision came down to an affinity for that part of East London (my wife and I visited Waltham Forest several years ago), a desire to reach across borders as an extension of the support and sponsorship efforts my wife and I undertake in Portland, and as a show of support for a group of strong, talented women who fought to keep their club alive.
London Seaward were affiliated with a name men’s club in East London but were dropped after the 2020/21 season. With just a couple of months to go before the start of the 2021/22 campaign, the players assumed management of the club and convinced the Football Association to let them maintain their position in the pyramid without being relegated to a lower division. Managers, coaches, physios, and other support personnel stayed on or joined to help them stay afloat. Initial sponsorships provided funds for that first year, but they needed a new shirt sponsor for 2022/23. That’s where I came in.
I heard about London Seaward through their digital marketing director, who I happened to follow on Twitter. He asked if there were any London startups willing to sponsor the team. After a few days with no announcements, I read up on the team’s history and commitment to their community and asked if the shirt sponsorship was still available. It was, so we sorted the details and Technology and Society, represented online by techsoc.com, became the team’s Platinum Sponsor.
My late signing, travel at the end of the summer holiday season, and world events delayed our official announcement until now, but I’m happy to be part of the team. As an American I’m honor-bound to try to make a profit from this sponsorship, but I literally have the rest of my life to do so. I hope to build awareness of my courses on LinkedIn Learning, the books I have available through Amazon and other retailers, and other independent projects or speaking engagements, but my main goal for now is to support the team and the Waltham Forest community. I’ll figure out the rest later.
To start the ball rolling here, I thought I'd revisit a post I made on my Improspectives® blog back in February 2017 regarding Lincoln's shock win over Burnley in the men's FA Cup.
One of the undying joys of sports is watching an underdog beat a massive favorite. The U.S. Olympic hockey team beating the USSR in the semi-finals of the 1980 Winter Olympics is one such win, as was the #15 seed University of Richmond basketball team’s win in the first round against my alma mater, the #2 seed Syracuse Orange. Even though those wins were improbable, they came in contests among reasonably well-matched teams. Richmond and Syracuse are both Division I programs, so they could recruit and offer scholarships to elite players.
Few tournaments remain where teams of all levels compete on equal terms. Even the famed Indiana state high school basketball tournament changed to four divisions based on enrollment in 1997. The exception is soccer, or football as it’s called everywhere except in the U.S. and Canada. Most national organizations hold a tournament where teams of all levels compete. In England, that tournament is the FA (Football Association) Cup. Premier League, League Championship, and League 1 teams get byes through the early rounds, but the lower division sides advance and, on occasion, knock off one of the big boys. It’s unusual for a League 1 or League 2 side to beat a Premier League team, but it does happen.
And then there’s Lincoln. Lincoln plays in the National League, which is, in rank order, below the Premier League, League Championship, League 1, and League 2. According to the New York Times, Lincoln was 81 places below Premier League side Burnley when they played on February 18. No National League team had ever beaten a Premier League side in an FA Cup game until Lincoln pulled it off.
While the win is shocking, it’s doesn’t come against Lincoln’s run of form. They reached the Round of 16 by beating League Championship sides Ipswich and Brighton, so they were clearly playing well. And Burnley is a mid-table club, substantially behind the leaders but well above the cutoff line for relegation to the League Championship. (The bottom three Premier League teams are relegated, while the top two League Championship teams, plus the winner of a playoff among the sides that finished third through sixth, are promoted.) Burnley has the money to attract top-flight foreign talent, while Lincoln fields part-timers who work to supplement their football pay.
Upsets of this magnitude make for great stories, but they also point to the depth of talent available to take the field for English sides at all levels of the game. The history of the game, its cultural significance, and the pride that comes from playing well shine through Lincoln’s success. As the saying goes, “England expects.” Lincoln has exceeded those expectations.