I love football. Have loved football since the first game I went to in 1996 – Coventry City vs. Manchester City at Highfield Road.
I’m from Rugby in Warwickshire and grew up going to Coventry games with my Uncle, when they were in the Premier League. The Sky Blue glory days of the 90s. Or something like that. I’ve lived in Spain and followed La Liga, seen Valencia play Atlético at the Mestalla. I’ve watched the Leicester City documentary more times than I care to remember.
I’m a football fan.
In 2017 I was living in east London and after a period of not watching live football for a while, I found myself craving that buzz you only get from walking up to a ground on a sunny day, being part of a heartbeat of fans: hope and worry and anticipation and excitement.
West Ham was my closest Premier League club so off I went.
West Ham vs. Swansea, 30th of September 2017. 1-0 to West Ham. By no means the most exciting game of football, but I was hooked again. I started to go to home games regularly with my neighbour, a lifelong Hammer, and some away matches on my own through contacts I made on Social Media. I’ve seen some great games, including the 3-1 victory over Manchester United on the sunniest of Saturdays in September 2018.
I’d like to think The London Stadium is a place for everyone, from fans like my neighbour who have supported West Ham since the 1970s to people from the local community who might never have been to a football game before. That it’s a place where everyone can experience the highs and lows of being a football fan; the nail biting countdown in injury time, the unexpected comeback or even the last minute defeat.
Football should be for everyone, at any time, just as you are – at its’ best it brings people together and that is to be celebrated, on International Women’s Day, and every day.
Hannah Kumari is an actor, writer and theatre maker. Her current show ENG-ER-LAND: love letters from a 90s football fan is inspired by her experiences and supported by Arts Council England and Fans for Diversity.
For further information and performance updates you can follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahkumari