Ed Sheeran has sent a message to young female footballers in his home county of Suffolk and beyond: you matter.
Last week, Ipswich Town F.C. announced the megawatt celebrity, who is also a loyal fan, had signed on as shirt sponsor for the 2021-2022 season.
The A-Team singer's year-long investment extends to both the club's first teams - the League One men's side and its women's squad, the Tractor Girls, who compete in the fourth-tier FA Women's National League Division One South East.
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Winger Sophie Peskett, who has played for Town for two years, said her whole team was thrilled to hear the club was getting a big boost from such a famous face.
The 18-year-old said: "When we found out that Ed was sponsoring us, we put on his songs and had a bit of a dance in the car!
Ed sponsoring both teams shows that the women's game is growing and how men's and women's teams can work together.
"It is nice to know that someone like Ed who has been a fan of the club for his whole life is in support of women's football too. I think it'll be massive for women's football. He's just a nice guy and wants to help us and that's great.”
The fully amateur women's team has a budding Under-21s academy to support grassroots players.
The Tractor Girls' new shirts will feature mathematical symbols from the titles of Sheeran's albums, though he's stayed mum about what exactly they mean.
But even if she never cracks the code, Peskett thinks the new kits can't be anything but a big plus – especially for younger girls at the club.
She added: "The shirts represent a positive change. It helps with recognition and getting our name out there, which is a really important thing for us. Equality is what we're really trying to achieve and to have Ed help with that is great.
From the younger teams, I think other girls will look up at this and think that they want to play. It will definitely encourage more girls to play football.
"Ed doing this sets a goal and something to reach for. It's a good pathway to get girls to work their way up from grassroots."
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Sheeran, who earned an estimated $64 million in 2020, was ranked No.23 on Forbes' highest paid celebrities list last year—just a few places behind new Wrexham owner Ryan Reynolds in the No.18 spot.
The musician's announcement also came on the same day England captain Harry Kane announced he was renewing his shirt sponsorship for Leyton Orient.
The London club was criticised last month after announcing it was "parting ways" with the separately run women's team of the same name, who compete in the same division as the Tractor Girls.
Leyton Orient insisted it was still committed to the women's game and was developing new pathways and programmes as part of a "new direction for female football."
Peskett believes the celebrity investment trend can only help squads like hers grow.
She said: "I think as more celebrities do this it will encourage others to as well, which is massive financially and for equality in the sport.
We already use the men's facilities which is great, but it will just help things like getting staff and extra support, which would be really helpful.
"We all think it looks really good. We are looking forward to seeing the shirts next season and having [Ed's] name associated with us. We can't wait to wear them!"
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