Manager of the Month for community pub that backs women’s sport

Denise Coyne of the Sibthorpe Arms in Hertfordshire is the BT Sport Manager of the Month for November

A pub that has thrown its support behind women’s football at grassroots and professional level has been rewarded by winning the BT Sport Manager of the Month trophy.

Denise Coyne, who has been the licensee at The Sibthorpe Arms in Welham Green, Hertfordshire for six years, has won the prize for November.

It rewards a pub at the heart of its community that has brought staff and customers together to play as a team in the inaugural BT Sport Women’s Pub Cup, screen numerous international and Women’s Super League games and sign
the Red Lioness Pledge to do its part in growing the game.

Denise was inspired to enter the Pub Cup because a member of her staff is even more useful on the pitch than she is behind the bar. She explains: “We entered because I had a young girl working for me, Nicole Cooper, who had successfully applied for a football scholarship in Arizona where she is now playing.

She got some of her friends together and we went to Selhurst Park and had a great day there. We had a few wins and a few losses but the team was treated so well, it was so professional.

“I was there cheering them on because I like to get involved in all of the sports that we do at the pub.” She added that Nicole was going to be drafted back into the Sibthorpe team over the festive season.

“She was due back in December and she hopes to do some work here and come back and tell the customers about her experiences. “She probably won’t be back in time for next year’s Pub Cup but I’ve been making inquiries with local women’s teams to represent us. We will definitely enter and I would recommend others do the same because it is a great experience.

“We also donated the strips that were provided to us by BT Sport to a local junior girls team so they are now out there playing in them.” As well as getting involved in the Pub Cup, the Sibthorpe Arms has also grown it’s television audience of live women’s football.

Denise continues: “We started showing women’s football in the lead up to the World Cup when the friendlies were on and a lot of interest built up.

It’s brought people in, including new customers with their children. We have fathers and daughters coming in to watch the football which we haven’t really had before, it used to just be fathers and sons.

“We also signed the Red Lioness pledge to show our support and because we realised it was an opportunity for us to promote women’s football. When we saw a pub in the centre of London (The Red Lion in Moorgate) get on board, we thought we can bring that back to our local community to drive interest in ladies football.”

Community is a key word for a pub that does more than most to bring people from the surrounding area together. When BT Sport visited to present the trophy, dozens of walkers were returning from a morning ramble for lunch at the pub.

Denise continues: “The Sibthorpe Arms sits in the centre of the village of Welham Green and is a great community pub. Along with the sport we have live music, karaoke, quizzes and a friendship group and it’s also a great place for functions.

“Local pubs are really important in villages and towns. They get people out of the house to meet others. They offer solace for people who are on their own. Sport brings people to the pub whether they have been watching or playing it so they can relax and have a drink afterwards.”

This means that BT Sport is central to the pub’s offer. As well as women’s football, Premier League, Champions League, and rugby union are all big crowd pullers.

BT Sport is vital to our business because it has a great variety of sport on offer. We have the rugby and the football and it just enhances our business. We have great food, great staff and customer service and BT goes hand in hand with what we have to offer.

Rugby and football fans mix happily together at the pub and help to enhance the atmosphere. Denise continues: “Champions League nights are really good. We screen a couple of games at a time. It’s a great opportunity to bring people in to integrate and chat to each other. Our motto here is ‘Choose your seat, not a side… and enjoy the game’.

“We purchased the Amazon Premier League Pass to make sure we are not missing out on any games that are being shown. People need to know that they can watch all of the games here at The Sibthorpe Arms.

“A lot of our guests come for the rugby as well. We show the Premiership and Heineken Cup games. There’s lots of interest off the back of the World Cup. Saracens is our local team and we get a lot of the fans coming in.”

The culmination of all of Denise and her team’s hard work is the award of the BT Sport trophy, along with a voucher for £1,000 to spend in the BT shop. It’s a prize that Denise says is for the entire Sibthorpe community.

“Winning the BT Sport Manager of the Month trophy is great for us here at The Sibthorpe. It’s for the staff and the customers who come here for the sport throughout the year.”

  • Do you have what it takes to be a BT Sport Manager of the Month? Tell us why on Twitter, using the hashtag #BTMOTM, and you could be in with a chance of winning the prize and a visit from the BT Sport crew.

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