Although I have many Facebook friends from Wolverhampton, the city where my favorite football team, Wolves, play, I have never had the opportunity to sit down with someone from the area and talk. Therefore, I was very happy to learn of the opportunity to see a panel of experts on women’s football, one of which was Professor Jean Williams from the University of Wolverhampton. During Thursday’s discussion, when I asked a question to Gwendolyn Oxenham, Professor Dubois cheekily pointed out to Professor Williams that I am a Wolves fan. After class, I approached Professor Williams, and we talked for 25 minutes. It was an incredible conversation and I was excited to have this opportunity.
What impressed me the most about Professor Williams was her friendliness. The first thing she asked me was about my studies and interests. This touched me. To see her take an interest in my life told me that she was a very special professor. So I decided to ask her about her work next. She informed me that she is working on analyzing artifacts from women’s football in England and that she has 92 boxes of memorabilia. Right now, she is on box 50, so she has learned much new information, but there is still much more to learn. My first question to her, to continue on the day’s topic, was the role that Wolves Women FC played in the city of Wolverhampton. I learned that Wolves Women, like many of the women’s football teams in England, was more of a community outreach program than an actual serious footballing side like Manchester City has. It was very interesting to learn this fact, because I already knew that Wolves Women is neither well supported nor very successful in league play. Thus, those two things made sense to me.
Next, we talked about our love for our favorite clubs. Professor Williams supports Leicester City, the improbable Premier League champions of 2016. She told me about the incredulity of this amazing season and noted that her father, who unfortunately passed away some years ago, would have been very proud. Then she asked me why I supported Wolves. I told her about me decision to support Wolves after they beat Liverpool in 2010 and that now I have progressed to being a leader in the official American supporters group. Interestingly, Professor Williams is interested in overseas supporters groups and gave me her business card so we could talk about that more later.
The conversation didn’t stop there. When I told Jean that Wolves were playing Cardiff City the next day, Gwendolyn and Shireen Ahmed, the two panelists for the day, took note of our conversation and joined in. When they wanted to learn more about Wolves, Professor Williams deferred to me and let me explain to them Wolves’ decorated history, especially their role in the foundation of the Champions League. They seemed fascinated and Gwendolyn even said she would have to follow Wolves’ progress in the coming years. Then I had to ask them forgiveness because, during the panel the next day, Wolves would be playing in a very important match against Cardiff. Fortunately they understoos and gave me permission to sneakily watch on my phone during the panel. Jean told me about her wedding, when the FA Cup was being contested, and she decided to pause the wedding to allow the guests to watch the match. In fact, during the panel, Professor Williams asked me the score during the middle of the panel (it was 0-0 at the time. Wolves went on to win.).
Professor Williams’s visit was a dream. Not only could I learn from a football expert, but also I made a connection for the rest of my life with a very friendly person. I look forward to continuing this friendship and staying in touch with this distinguished professor.