From the players’ goal faces to mums tweeting pictures of their daughters staying up late to watch England in that dramatic semi-final ...
By Jennifer Beattie
... the Women’s World Cup has shown what a brilliantly exciting and fun game football is and how it can inspire a new generation of girls to take up the sport.
Without a doubt the most enjoyable part for me was watching England end their World Cup on a high, winning bronze against Germany, marking another piece of sporting history for the nation. I think the tournament overall has been fantastic and as a player playing in England it is really exciting to see how the game will progress as a result.
It’ll be tough for the five England players who are Manchester City teammates of mine to get back to business at club level after their journey in Canada when the FA Women’s Super League resumes after its mid-season break this weekend. From speaking to the girls, it’s been the best experience of their lives but their full focus now will be on recovering as quickly as possible from jet lag and the amount of games they’ve played in order to prepare and be ready for our fixtures with City. Especially since there’s such a short space of time together for us to train before the league begins again.
First up for us is Birmingham City and with tough matches away to leaders Chelsea and second placed Arsenal it is so important for us to get together as a fully fit squad and start to climb the table and get some results.
As a player I’ve learned a lot from this year's World Cup. The physical and mental demands are higher than ever before. Athleticism and technical ability are no longer stand alone necessities. All players now need to have a very good standard of both in order to be able to compete on the world stage and at international level.
Mentally the players have had to deal with what I believe has been the biggest spotlight ever to have been shone on women's football this summer in Canada. Playing in a World Cup can be an emotional rollercoaster in itself but having to go through that in the public eye can has the potential to be the best or worst experience possible. The way Laura Bassett has dealt with her misfortune against Japan by scoring the own goal that stopped England making the final has been exceptional. Not only did she open up about her pain in a heartfelt interview (something I would have struggled to do), she then went on to produce another incredible performance in the 3rd place play-off win against Germany.
As an ambassador for Host Your Kit, the football kit giveaway from cloud company iomart, I’ve also seen the enthusiasm for the game at the grassroots level this past month. Over 100 teams entered our competition for the chance to win a new Nike kit during the World Cup and I hope the winners wear their new kits with pride.
We asked those entering the competition to complete a survey so we could find out more about the state of the women’s game. Overwhelmingly it was felt that it is still treated as inferior to the men’s game and that it needed more financial support. The idea of a Women’s FA was suggested by some, however I think it would be a good idea to stay within the Football Association as I think the work they do and the support they have given to the women's side has been great and their set up is already one of the best in Europe. However I definitely do like the idea from some respondents that Match of the Day or MoTD2 should include highlights from the WSL.
There is still plenty of work to do but perceptions are changing and with the help of She Kicks, the broadcasters, clubs like ours at Manchester City, the volunteer coaches and most of all the parents who encourage their daughters to play football, I reckon we can get more young girls involved in the game. Who wouldn’t want to pretend to be Carli Lloyd hitting a 55 yard strike in the local park after her incredible hat-trick helped the USA beat Japan in the final! I would encourage you to bring them along to WSL matches, take them along to training with a local team and show them what it’s all about.
On a personal note I will continue to do my best for club and country and help Scotland make it to the next World Cup in France in 2019. There’ll definitely be no need for late night tv watching for that tournament plus there’ll be a chance for supporters to get along and see the matches for real.
The World Cup has reminded me why I play the game and I believe it has shown us all that women’s football has a great future.
(Manchester City and Scotland player Jenny Beattie is an ambassador for Host Your Kit, a community campaign from UK cloud company iomart which gave away FREE Nike kits to deserving girls’ youth football teams during the World Cup. For details of the winning teams visit: http://blog.hostyourkit.com)
Neither are workable or likely at present but hypothetically, would you prefer a more strict salary cap in the FA WSL OR should centrally contracted England players (that receive salaries from The FA) be allocated more evenly around WSL1 clubs?