We’ve got to keep momentum going
IT FEELS as if everything has come together for women’s football – the World Cup, the FA Cup final at Wembley and an exciting Super League season. The game is on the crest of a wave.
Because I was out in Canada commentating, I was the same as a lot of the England players; in a bubble and not really sure what the reaction was like back home.We were just really proud of the players, how they were playing and progressing in the tournament.
Of course, losing to Japan in the semi-final was a massive disappointment but then they bounced back and won the third/fourth play-off against Germany.
The nation took the girls to heart and really backed them. I realised from social media and from speaking to people back home how much support they were getting.
I was even getting messages from little girls saying how their mum and dad had let them stay up to watch it and that they want to play for England when they grow up. You wanted the players to inspire a nation, that’s the message the manager Mark Sampson put across, and they did just that.
It was attitude changing. I’ve got a couple of lad mates who are really into their football and go to watch Liverpool or Everton every week. They were having World Cup parties – I’ve never known that before, even when I was playing in World Cups!
Things are gradually changing. A lot of it is due to the team being successful, which always helps, and the fact they gave their absolute all.
A lot of people have got tired of diving and cheating, and it was refreshing not to see that in the women’s game.The girls were loving their football and proud to play for their country.
It’s only since they’ve come back that they’ve realised how things have changed.
I spoke to Laura Bassett and when she got back home, her local library had a book for people to put messages of support in after the own goal against Japan. Her next door neighbour came round to see if she was ok.
It just shows how everybody watched and felt dreadful for what she was going through. Nine times out of ten, that ball wouldn’t have gone in.
It meant so much to her but, the type of person she is, she was more concerned about how everybody else would feel rather than herself.
For me, Bass was one of the best players throughout the tourna
ment. She was consistently very good and it was so sad the way it happened. She says, ‘I wish people didn’t know Laura Bassett’. But, along with her team-mates, she’s inspired a lot of girls to play football and come to the games. That’s what it’s about. We need to keep the momentum going now. England are in their European Championship qualifiers soon and hopefully people will keep watching.
I said it was going to change after the Olympics, but it dropped away. I’m hoping it continues this time. In my eyes, the next step is to have a completely professional league in WSL1 and WSL2. The better the standard, the more people will come.