International Women’s Day: the rise of the women’s game
With the recent success of England’s Lionesses in the SheBelieves Cup, the future of Women’s football looks bright. On International Women’s Day (8th March 2019) we reflect on how the game has grown and the future of the game on a global scale.
The women’s game has been kicking around for longer than most know, with the first game being played in 1895 before the commencement of the FA ban; preventing women from playing on any football league grounds in 1921. This didn’t stop the popularity increasing, and before long the Women’s Football Association (WFA) of 1969 was formed with 44 newly organised clubs. The prevalence of the game has only increased, with the recent restructuring of the Women’s Soccer League.
The recent changes saw 11 teams including the likes of Manchester City Women, Chelsea Women and Yeovil Town Ladies FC become professional with clear academy pathways and set contracted hours for all players – something that became compulsory to obtain an FA License. Katie Brazier, head of the FA’s women’s leagues and competitions expressed how the “changes will continue the journey to transform key elements of the women’s game” and will “provide an elite performance environment that will produce more and better players, increase the interest and excitement via a more competitive league and attract a greater number of fans” – a crucial component of professional football needed to elevate the women’s game.
Phil Neville, head coach of the England Women’s Team has recently spoken out following the Lionesses 3-0 success over Japan in the SheBelieves Cup. He believes “the future for English women’s football is absolutely amazing” owing to the emphasis on youth pathways and success at recent competitions (2019 SheBelieves Cup; U20s finishing 3rd in the 2018 World Cup). Alongside the new professionalism in the Women’s leagues, Neville now considers there are “8-10 world-class players in the women’s senior team”. With the upcoming World Cup this summer and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics looming, is there any stopping the Lionesses in their bid to become the best team in the world?
Do you think the Lionesses can win the 2019 Women’s World Cup?