July 31st, 2022, is a day that will go down in history. The day England won the Women’s Euros. For young boys and girls around the country, it will be the reference point of when their love for football began. We will remember where we were when England won their first major trophy in 56 years. The sun shone, and Sweet Caroline filled our speakers. It was a historic day for football, for women’s sports, and women generally.
Representation opens doors to children dreaming of what they will be when they’re older. Girls throughout the country will have seen the triumphs of the England team and see the potential in themselves both in sport and in life generally. The recent win is a giant leap for women in sports. They are in their own lane and demand we pay attention to their talent rather than constantly compare them to their male counterparts. Queen Elizabeth II has spoken about England’s recent victory, saying the players had “set an example that will be an inspiration for girls and women today, and for future generations.”
Football Finally Came Home
Yesterday’s game gripped the attention of the nation. Our dreams that have for so long not seemed realistic came true. Football came home. Crowds at Wembley and throughout the country erupted when Ella Toone scored the first goal of the final in the 62nd minute. England’s dreams seemed to be slipping away from us in the 79th minute when Germany’s Lina Magull scored. History seemed to be repeating itself; the last time our Lionesses reached the final was in 2009, with Germany beating us 6-2. Those that watched the 2009 game would have felt the sting of DeJa’Vu. However, in the second half of extra time, 24-year-old Chloe Kelly swooped in and stole the nation’s hearts and the victory away from Germany. Kelly scored the winning goal in the 110th minute. England exhaled. We’d done it.
England beat Germany in the Women’s Euro 2022 Final 2-1. The final saw record-breaking crowds with 87,192 fans crossing the turnstiles, the biggest crowd for any Euros game. The domestic TV audience also smashed records. A record of 9 million viewers was set in 2019 when the United States beat England in the Women’s World Cup semi-final. The Euros Final saw a TV audience of more than 17 million tuned in to watch England. The game was the most-viewed women’s football game ever on UK television. Unfortunately, the support for the Women’s Euros is still nowhere near the level of the recent Men’s Euros in 2020. The Men’s Final in the Euros 2020 between England and Italy saw 30.95 million viewers. It is undoubtedly sad to see this level of support and love towards football and England not extended to our Lionesses.
Why are we not as engaged when women represent the country on our screens?
Hear How Our Lionesses Roar
The last time England won a major trophy in 1966, when women were not allowed to play football. In 1921 the FA banned women from football for 50 years until 1971, branding it as ‘unsuitable’ and that it ‘shouldn’t be encouraged.’ Although not that distant a time, it is a long way from the attitudes the FA now holds towards women competing in football. The thought that women were banned from playing football during our parent’s lifetimes seems absurd. The gender gap in football lives on. Figures published by England Football in July 2022 showed only 63% of schools in England offer equal football coaching to boys and girls. We continue to deprive our daughters of the equal opportunity to take part in football. If that had happened to any of our 23 victorious Lionesses, perhaps last night would have gone differently.
The FA now seeks to both erase its past mistakes and proactively encourage girls into football. They have recently announced they want at least 120,000 more girls playing football at school within 18 months. Additionally, they have pledged to train an extra 300 women coaches and ensure an extra 7,000 are playing competitively by 2024. Hopefully, the 31st of June 2022 will go down as the turning point in history that saw young girls invited and encouraged into football and the world of sports generally. Let’s not wait until a final to support women in football from this point on.
Our England squad proved themselves in the eyes of those that still said ‘Women’s football’ instead of simply football. We hope this is the end of compliments being caveated with ‘for a woman’. Our Lionesses gave us the sporting summer for the history books. They smashed records and have won the silverware England so desperately yearned for.