So the World Cup is over and England narrowly missed out on a place in the final (sob) but tasted glory in an historic bronze medal victory over Germany (yay).
The Lionesses had a fantastic tournament and won over the hearts of the country with their history making, but for me the real win of this campaign was the BBC coverage of games and the potential impact it has made.
Everyone always bangs on about how important media coverage is and how women’s sports should be allowed more but to me it always seems like such a generic demand. I think what this World Cup has shown is what kind of coverage makes an impact and it also gives the FA WSL a blueprint to work towards.
The time differences could easily have seen this tournament slide past unnoticed but the accessibility of games via the BBC’s many channels has played a massive part in keeping the interest alive and showing the sport to new fans.
The real highlight has been the BBC’s World Cup catch up show. The bite size ten minute show with the ‘You should’ve stayed up for this’ section and its quirky graphics has been a massive success, especially with young fans who have not been able to stay up late to watch games.
How do I know this? Because my two football loving nephews are now obsessed with the Women’s World Cup!
Every morning Charlie (8) and Joe (6) wake up and ask to have the catch up show on. They can tell you the best goals, the best saves and who they want to win the cup. In the newspapers the debate about whether or not you should compare the women’s and men’s game has raged but these lads don’t care.
It’s football, they love football and they love watching the women’s World Cup. They have no preconceptions about the sport and simply watch it because they love the game. They have their favourite teams and players, just like they do for the Premier league and just like they could with the FA WSL given half a chance.
On the night of the England game against Japan my nephews begged to be allowed to stay up to watch it but staying up until 2am was not an option on a school night. However, when their mum crept up the stairs to bed after the game and switched on her bedroom light Charlie woke with a start and ran into her room. “Mammy, what was the score?”
“I can’t tell you because you won’t sleep.”
“I need to know!”
Vauxhall’s advert about 2015 being the year that boys play football pretending to be Lucy Bronze is not far from the truth in my experience. And this was not just about impressing the boys, I am sure that it is exactly the same for all the football loving eight year old girls who have watched this tournament live and via the highlights show, I just haven’t witnessed that first hand.
These are the fans women’s football will need, the kids who have had the opportunity to watch this World Cup it has caught their imagination. The youngsters who love football and enjoy watching all football regardless of whether its men or women playing. If the FA WSL had the same style bite size, easily accessible catch up show alongside its regular highlights package it would be a fantastic hook for younger fans.
In the meantime I will leave you with the honest (and correct) tips from the newest women’s football pundits on who they thought would win the World Cup.
Joe: “USA because they have Wambach.”
Charlie: “USA. Japan weren’t very good against England.”
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?