Women’s football continues to change beyond recognition.
In the past decade things have really gone from strength to strength as more and more elite clubs take on women’s squads on a full-time basis, and grassroots outfits try to ensure that as many girls teams as possible thrive where practicable.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that you’d be hard-pressed to find a competitive girls or ladies league even as recently as 2010.
However, the game continues to rise and remains the fastest growing sport in the world.
Just this past weekend, Barcelona’s women’s team won their 15th match in a row, an all-time record for any women’s team, whilst rivals, Real Madrid Feminino, saw one of their players hit a three-minute hat-trick, also a record.
Why is women’s football so popular?
It’s an incredibly dated view to suggest it’s a ‘men’s game.’ Football hasn’t been that for some while. It’s a game for all. Men, women and children.
The competitive nature of team sport is essential for everyone to build up certain skill sets, and not just in the athletic sense either.
From a women’s perspective, it is another line in the sand in the fight to be accepted as equals. For young girls to aspire to greatness in a sport they will have enjoyed from youth just as much as their male counterparts.
The confidence, health benefits and sense of team ethic are all reasons why this is such a positive leap forward.
Not to mention that as football transitions, it’s becoming less about physical attributes and more about strategy and tactics. Squads, male and female, will be sprinkled with exponents who are adept at one or the other.
US Women’s team star, Megan Rapinoe, has become an icon in the women’s game for the way in which she has pitched to governments and stakeholders everywhere, on the importance of ensuring that her sport and the people within it remain front and centre, and not marginalised as they had been for years.
Today, women want to be seen as equals more than ever before. There are, thankfully fewer traditional gender biases, and the shift has gained traction at long last.
Women’s football isn’t new of course, and some clubs have been around for decades. Take the Millwall Lionesses or even Arsenal Ladies. The former began life as far back as 1972, whilst the Gunners were formed in 1987.
Vic Akers managed Arsenal for 22 years before retirement, and left them in the healthiest of states; in the Women’s Super League and 33 trophies won. The Lionesses, meanwhile, currently ply their trade in the fifth tier of the women’s football pyramid.
If more money comes into the game as it progresses, there’s little reason for the sport not to become almost as popular as its male counterpart from a spectator point of view too.
Women’s Football Miscellany
The UK had several women’s clubs in the 1890s. One north London team attracted 10,000 supporters for a game at Crouch End
Preston was famed for women’s football in the early days, home to Dick Kerr’s Ladies, formed in 1894
In the late ’60s the FA banned women’s football from its grounds on the basis that the game was ‘quite unsuitable for females’
The Women’s FA was formed in 1969 and the first Women’s FA Cup Final and England Women’s international soon followed
In 1983 the FA invited the WFA to affiliate on the same basis as a County Association
In 1993 the Women’s Football Committee was formed, tasked with running women’s football in England
The FA revealed plans to develop women’s football to an elite level in 1997
In 1998 they appointed Hope Powell as Women’s National Coach
By 2002 football had become the top participation sport for women and girls in England