So, it has been just over a week since I attended and reported on my first women’s football match and I am sure those close to me will probably tell you that I have bored them to tears telling them repeatedly how much I enjoyed it; which is evident in that I have already purchased numerous match tickets for some of Manchester City Women’s upcoming fixtures.
What surprised me the most after attending the friendly fixture between Manchester City Women and FFC Frankfurt was the standard of football that was played. Albeit these teams are two of the best in Europe, the game was played at a quick and entertaining tempo; one that undoubtedly mirrored the styles of play that are heaped with praise in the men’s game.
The sport started becoming big in this country following the national team’s successes at the 2015 World Cup in Canada, with the Lionesses superbly achieving a third-place finish. With the top tier domestic season starting towards the end of April and the European Championships taking place in the Summer, I am certainly of the opinion that the sport will continue to grow.
Why will it grow?
Another thing that surprised me when I was at the game was the quality of the atmosphere that was I witnessing, with those of both genders and all ages singing and chanting for the full 90 minutes. After thinking about it, one key aspect as to why there was such a good attendance is because of how cheap and affordable it is to go watching women’s football. To put it into perspective as to how cheap it is, I’ve paid five pounds for a ticket to Manchester City Women’s Champions League quarter-final tie, whereas I would have to pay almost double that to go watching an eighth tier match in the men’s game. These cheap prices make it much easier for a full family to go watching a top tier football match without breaking the bank.
Not only are you getting cheap entry to a football match, you are paying a small fee to watch some of the best women footballers in the world, with the standard of the FA Women’s Super League improving all the time. Most notably, with Manchester City Women signing the Women’s Player of the Year, Carli Lloyd, on a short-term contract and another American who has recently made the switch to play in Europe is Alex Morgan, who plays in neighbouring France, for Olympique Lyonnais. It would be a worthy argument to say that the two most famous women footballers in the world are now both plying their trade in Western Europe.
How will it grow?
I previously mentioned, the Women’s European Championships are taking place this Summer in the Netherlands and I would hope there is a national interest again, like there was for the 2015 World Cup, with the level of interest obviously depending on how the home nations, England and Scotland, fare in the competition. It was announced late last year that Channel 4 had purchased the rights to broadcast live coverage of both England and Scotland’s group stage matches as well as the final, on 6th August. As it gets closer in time to the competition, I cannot stress enough how important it will be to advertise this coverage to get the word out to those who are unaware, that this competition is happening and that there is a high quantity of live coverage available for them to watch.
A lot of younger football fans these days would probably tell you that a lot of their footballing knowledge comes from playing the video game FIFA, in particularly the franchise’s main game mode, Ultimate Team. It was only in the 2016 version of the game that we saw the inclusion of women’s national teams; however they are rarely used by FIFA players as they are only available to be used in exhibition matches and there is nothing to gain from playing with these teams. With the standard of the domestic game ever increasing, will we see club teams being brought into the game in the near future and could there potentially be a separate add-on for a Women’s Ultimate Team game mode? This would be one guaranteed way of raising interest levels for the women’s game as players’ names would become more common household names with FIFA players getting these players by opening packs and subsequently using them to play in online games against their friends.
The sport has come so far in just a few years, it will be interesting to see how much more it will evolve in the next decade or so. I for one, am now a big fan of the women’s game and I hope many others give it a chance and fall in love with it, just like I have done.
To find out more information about the FA Women’s Super League Spring Series follow this link – http://www.fawsl.com/index.html