As England celebrate winning their first major trophy in the women’s game, and the first in football for the nation in either since 1966, it’s worth taking a minute to remember how they got here.
Success did not come overnight for England women.
Sunday night’s victory is the result of many, many years of hard work after the foundations were laid by Hope Powell, who had to fight tooth and nail for every little thing as explained by Alex Stone, who was a press officer for the England Women’s team:
“𝑰𝒇 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒅𝒐𝒏’𝒕 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒓𝒐𝒂𝒅 𝒚𝒐𝒖’𝒓𝒆 𝒘𝒂𝒍𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒈, 𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒓𝒕 𝒑𝒂𝒗𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒂𝒏𝒐𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓 𝒐𝒏𝒆.”
Throughout #WEURO2022, memories have come flooding back. Hope Powell paved a path.
— Alex Stone (@AlexStone7) July 28, 2022
After the women’s game was banned for 50 years by the FA, it took a long long time for them to acknowledge the damage they inflicted and the attitude was not positive towards the women’s game.
Since then, the FA has been more proactive and has invested a lot of money to develop the women’s football pyramid and the youth system to produce an elite team that is capable of competing for international titles as we saw in the Euros this summer.
It is well known that creating the FA WSL back in 2011 was one key to unlocking today’s success with teams semi-professional in the beginning, training two-to-three times a week in the evening before changing into a fully professional League back in 2017/18.
The FA certainly got the right vision there, although they certain historic teams by demoting them one or two division down for non-sporting reasons.
Some of those teams have still not recovered and are still languishing in the lower divisions of the FA WNL.
At international level, the FA has invested a lot of money in the England Women’s teams from the youth to the seniors.
They get the reward for it today.
On the sports science side, infrastructure, the number of coaching staff involved, everything is done to prepare the young Lionesses to be ready when they get into the senior side.
The improvement also came from the WSL teams who spent a lot of money, relatively speaking in comparison to the men’s team budgets, to get their women player better pay with better training facilities and football grounds.
Back in 2017, the FA introduced the ‘Gameplan for Growth’ as part of the women football strategy and it included:
- DOUBLE PARTICIPATION: To increase the number of teams from 6,000 to 12,000, by 2020.
- DOUBLE FANS: To increase average attendances at international matches from 11,000 to 22,000 and from 1,047 to 2,020 at WSL games, by 2020.
- CONSISTENT SUCCESS ON WORLD STAGE: To be in the top three teams in the world, across all age groups and to have the potential to win the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
It is fair to say it has definitely been a success on part three, while participation is also on the up. On attendances, the jury is still out:
Really sorry all, had a bit of a spreadsheet malfunction on the United derby attendance, please see correct tables attached.
Av attendances down 37% from 3,070 to 1,924
Mens grounds – unchanged
Home grounds – up 5% from 1471 to 1542#BarclaysFAWSL pic.twitter.com/KriMObvGx9
— wslattendances (@wslattendances) May 20, 2022
Let’s hope the Lionesses’ win will be the catalyst for an exponential growth of the women’s game in England that will take it to the next level and benefit all players from the top tier to the amateur players who still face many obstacles to play the game they love.