The Lionesses may have lost the game against the USA in goals yesterday but they are still winners in my eyes. They fought so hard in extreme heat (something us Brits are not used to, let’s be honest!), and it was a truly amazing game to watch but they have done something else, something so much more important, they have brought women’s football to the forefront and made it something to cheer about, for everyone.
When we were watching last night, and I was roaring at the tv, my husband expressed surprise as he thought I didn’t like football, well I do, it’s just that I have never related it to me, I despise the laddish, louty football culture that I grew up with, there were no visible women teams for me to cheer on and gradually it just became something I didn’t like to watch, or even have on in the same room, it’s an annoying background noise! I have always encouraged my daughter though, she is 8 and loves playing football but was told at school that girls can’t play football as well as boys. It shook her confidence and the doubt started to creep in, she started to believe their words. I know all too well how that feels.
I never thought for one moment as a teen that I could be a footballer, I just felt like football, and a lot of other sports really, just didn’t apply to me as I wasn’t seeing women playing in big games, it wasn’t being talked about and so I just stopped being interested. Who knows what I could have been if I’d had these strong, talented and incredible sport’s women to look up to. Now though, it couldn’t be more different, big screens showed the game at Glastonbury, people are talking about it in the shops, men are watching and supporting with just as much passion as women, people across the country are so proud our women’s team and being very vocal about it too. And as for my daughter, she can have Lioness posters on her walls, she can buy the kit of her heroines, she can aspire to be like the those that have inspired her so much to keep practising.
Maybe she will go further in football, maybe she will always just play for fun, but one thing is for sure, she can now stand with the confidence of a Lioness supporter and say that women can play football as well as the men, and there is nothing anyone can say to shake her belief in the team that took us to the World Cup Semi Finals and changed the mindset of a nation!