Football Is Home

Congratulations to the England Women’s Football Team who beat Germany in dramatic late fashion at Wembley Stadium yesterday to lift the European Championships trophy, a first major tournament win for a senior England side since 1966.

31.7.22 will always be forever remembered as the day ‘our women’ brought football home, and the party will continue… The game in this country perhaps changed forever, thanks to sell out stadiums and superstar home grown football icons deserving of new found heroine status, next we’ll no doubt see more girls than ever given the opportunity to play football from an early age, inspirational for a generation to follow, this England team have achieved more than perhaps any other England team in history, and winning such prestigious event can change football in this country, for the better, forever.

Chloe Kelly coming off the bench to snatch at the second attempt an extra time winner, a pause before tearing off her shirt with sheer joy, Wembley rocking, an iconic a moment as ever seen in the great grounds under the Arch of Brent.

The defining moment when that whistle blew, with England players celebrating like never before, because nothing like this has ever happened before, for these women who have had to fight for their right against persistent sexism to play the sport they love for the country they adore.

A white middle aged man in writing this, I feel as proud in this team as I have done with any England team in the past, a defining moment for me also, one who started watching the tournament with a passive interest, to simply get away from the rubbish on TV that was Love Island, to being intrigued and engulfed with the way the teams played, with each game impressed, the technical ability and quality on show, Alessia Russo’s fantastic goals against Northern Ireland & Sweden, Spain’s tiki-taka in the Quarter Finals, the running stats of each team comparable, sometimes even better than the highest level of men’s international football, the opening goal by Ella Toone to lift the roof off at Wembley in the final, what a finish, and what a finish to that final. Stand out moments that I would personally remember forever, never have I previously in my life been able to name eleven female England players from the same team, today I can, this is the effect this team is having on men like me, those barriers are being broken down, old stuck in their way arrogant males, are finally having to accept this team of women is bloody good, and these girls have done our nation proud.

The game in this country now deserves even more recognition following on from what these girls have fabulously achieved, but when they say football came home whether it be in jest or in passing without consideration, this laziness used, however most narks me, the origins of the women’s game may more be credited to China and the ancient game of Tsu Chu, or even Scotland where the first international women’s game was played, in Midlothian during the 1790’s where there was said to be often an annual game.

Correct that football’s rules were written up by the English to lay the foundations for the great game we have today, but don’t forget, as women’s football was gaining popularity in this country, to unprecedented stardom in the early 1920’s, that the males who governed the bodies that matter, banned women from playing under FA rules, that ban lay in place until 1970, near fifty years of sexism, victimisation, oppression, if football has come home, then we certainly shouldn’t be proud by shouting about the nation where we say it started at, because we are not a nation that has proud women’s football history, until now at least.

More to the point, USA, Japan, Italy, Scandinavia, even Germany have more cause for laying foundations to the overall improvement of the women’s game, we have simply followed the better examples of others, in 2012 the Summer Olympics in London, in my mind playing huge part in giving women in this country the platform to show off their abilities as elite athletes, team GB beating Brazil at Wembley in front of 70,000 spectators, a then record attendance for a game in the UK, by some way too.

That attendance has now been smashed, the women’s Euros this year has been the most watched tournament in its history with the final played in front of 87,192, not just a record for women’s European Championships finals matches, but a record that surpasses that of the men’s final too.

The game has never been stronger in England and long may that continue, we’ve in recent years pushed the agenda of women’s football further than previously with growing crowds, better structure and larger levels of participation leading to more investment and more quality with more hunger to play from an early age, people like Ian Wright speaking out that ‘more’ still needs to be done, equal game was the hashtag used by UEFA and a petition has recently been laid to give girls the same sporting opportunities as boys in schools, something which needs to be pushed through parliament immediately. This nation now needs its brilliant platform of football inspired by Sarina Wiegman’s talented team of girls to inspire the next generation of Chloe Kelly’s so that success is continued, improvement flows and football ‘stays home’ with a much prouder present, than its seedy sexist past.

*Article provided by Daniel Peacock (Editor).

*Main image @Lionesses the winning team celebrates their Euro 2022 trophy success.

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