FOR many women in the football pyramid having their name and number on the back of their shirt is often a luxury.
That's why Stevenage midfielder and full-time postie Sherrie Evans, almost broke down in tears when she finally saw her name on her kit after 13-years at the club.
It was a landmark moment, but one that was only made possible by fast-food giants Burger King.
In the summer of 2019, the creators of the Whopper made the astonishing move to sponsor lowly League Two club Stevenage FC.
The club paid a reported £50,000 to the men, and this year they decided to plough the same investment into the women, as well as creating a unique Burger Queen logo.
Life-long Boro fan Sherrie told SunSport: "They delivered a special package to our door with a shirt inside with the Burger Queen logo and our names on the back – which we've never had.
"I just couldn't believe it. I nearly cried to be honest, you could hear the emotion in my voice.
"It's a huge moment for us to have the same deal as the men.
"I turned the shirt around and saw my own number and my name. I've always dreamt about that since I was a kid.
"I know it sounds silly but to have your own name on the back your shirt as a woman is massive.
"I was so proud and for a worldwide company to sponsor a little club like Stevenage that no one really knows about is mental!"
The Boro, who are coached by Dave Potter, play in the Women's National League South East Division.
The fourth-tier club is made up of teachers, carers and policewomen, who all juggle their full-time jobs with training twice a week.
Sherrie works six days a week delivering post and admitted it has been a struggle coping with the long hours while fighting for a spot in Potter's starting XI.
The midfielder continued: "What I find hard is if I get an injury, because I'm a postie.
"If I was to hurt my leg or foot, its detrimental to my work.
"If I've got a long term injury they could turn around and tell me to stop playing football or I could lose my job.
"When I was younger there wasn't really any money in women's football so that wasn't a viable career path.
"It would be difficult to just concentrate on football, as you could never reach your full potential with work."
This is why Burger King's sponsorship is offering a crucial lifeline to keep Stevenage's women's side up and running.
Many of the inspiring staff work on a voluntary basis and the women still pay to play, however the club are working hard to get this changed in the future.
Sherrie added: "We can't just commit to training all the time and with there being less money in the game, we're self funded.
"We still pay to play to cover training facilities, linesmen, referees, the pitch and transport to the game.
"The sponsorship is going to help massively.The funding alone takes pressure off of us because before we were struggling to run as a team.
"Coronavirus has destroyed businesses left, right and centre so it just means so much to us as a club.
"I can't thank Burger King enough for being brave enough to make this step.We are so proud to be Burger Queens."
Within one year, by utilising a video game, Burger King helped make the men's side one of the most marketable teams in football.
The fast-food giants cleverly tapped into the FIFA 20 world, offering free Whoppers and chips in return for gamers completing challenges, while playing as the The Boro.
They sold out all their club shirts, are the most played FIFA 20 team on live streaming platform Twitch, and are known around the world.
Now the women's side has also gone viral, with their Burger Queen shirts already selling out across the globe.
And Sherrie hopes this inspires young girls to want to be the next Boro superstar or England captain like Steph Houghton.
She said: "Twenty years ago women's football was so different.
"At Stevenage being a footballer is now a realistic option.
"I'd like to think that girls can look up to us and to professional players like Lucy Bronze and Steph Houghton, and realise it's an option for them now.
"Burger King have set a precedent for other big companies to sponsor smaller women's teams in the future."
Source: Read Full Article