England took a surprising and historic 3rd place in the 2015 Women's World Cup. Is it time you went to see a match for yourself?
I love growing sports, and women's football is decidedly in the 'growing sport' category. The 2015 World Cup in Canada was only the 7th staging of the event, which is enough to tell you how 'new' the sport is.
In fact there is a rich history of women's football, crowds of over 50,000 in the 1920s, but despite that, the ban on allowing it in English league grounds was only lifted around 40 years ago!
There have been attempts to 'launch' the sport again, notably the pro game in the US, and the US and Germany are the powerhouses in the sport today. Various formats have been tried in England, and you won't be surprised to read what's behind the latest attempt, the WSL - money!
After years of dominance by the Arsenal team, you can now find Chelsea and Liverpool on the scene. That's been driven by piling money into the women's side of those clubs, which brings the best players, which brings results.
I'm amazed there isn't a Manchester United team, since it's one of the biggest clubs in all of world sport, but surely it's only a matter of time...
The next push forward for the game is all about exposure, and the world cup result is massive in that regard. I said the 3rd place finish was both historic and surprising, and it's not hard to justify that view - the England women had never even won a knockout round match before, nor got to the semi final, nor beaten Germany.
When you consider the other 3 semi-finalists were 2 time winners Germany, and 2 time winners and Olympic gold winners US, plus the winners from last time Japan, the run of the England team was noted throughout the world game, not just back at home.
The match coverage was switched to BBC 1, news of the event appeared on the news programmes and the sports pages, which are huge leap forwards on the exposure front.
The BBC did a good job of promoting the game, telling viewers where and when they could see the next league matches.
If you enjoyed watching the world cup, why not go along to a game? You'll see a lot of the England players if you pick a top team. The tickets are remarkably cheap, because they are played at smaller grounds, and the crowds are much less intimidating than they may be at men's matches.
You don't get the vicious chanting you get at men's games, the cheering has a decidedly female twang to it, and the atmosphere is more of a family one - to be honest, the kind of crowd you get at most sports events *other* than men's football!
I'll be finding one to go to - the ticket money goes back into the game, helping the development, and the more the attendances, the better the coverage will be on TV, which in turn leads to more exposure and more attendance, and so on!
It's all too easy to take an interest in a sport when you see it on TV, but then let it slip off your radar until it comes around next time. Taking action when your sporting interest is piqued though, can be amazing...
For me it was curling. I first saw it in 2002, but it took until seeing it in 2006 to make an attempt to try it after watching it on TV again - I fell in love with the sport and have been playing it ever since.
I first watched the English women footballers when the European Championships came here in 2005, and I went to see them play a qualifier at the ground local to me.
This tournament has got me itching to see a league game - I know my ticket money will help the game, however little. I know I'll enjoy it, and if you enjoyed watching England in the world cup, I encourage you to do the same!
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