This summer’s European Championship on home soil can take women’s football to another level in this country, according to game figures.
“It’s going to give us a boost,” said Baroness Sue Campbell, the FA’s director of women’s football. standard sports, ahead of England’s opener against Austria tomorrow. “These special moments give you a special boost.
“It’s what you make of it: it can be a watershed moment, but we have to be ready to take that inspiration and turn it into participation. I think it’s going to speed up the women’s game in all sorts of ways.
Every major event in women’s football over the past two decades has been hailed as a potential turning point, but it feels like this tournament comes at the right time for the sport and the national team. Interest in women’s football continues to grow, boosted by a landmark broadcast deal with Sky Sports and the BBC, and the quality has never been higher.
” I believe in [watershed moments]said Chelsea manager Emma Hayes, one of the game’s main pioneers. If I look from 2012 up to those Euros, all those pivotal moments and the impact they had on the conduct of our domestic game, you need those big tournaments.
“The next level for us is to make FA Cup finals, Champions League games become defining moments in our domestic game. But I think if England won the Euros this summer it could be a monumental moment in the history of women’s football.
The hosts kick off the tournament at Old Trafford tomorrow night as favorites, not least because head coach Sarina Wiegman is a reigning European champion, having led her native Netherlands to glory in 2017.
Successive semi-finals in 2017 and the 2019 World Cup suggest his England side are well placed to do better and follow the men’s side in capturing the country’s imagination this summer.
“Do we have a great team? Yes. Do we have a world class coach? Without a doubt,” Campbell added. “In my humble opinion, Sarina is one of the best coaches I have ever seen in any sport.”
“People will see really first-class sport and have a wonderful festival atmosphere around them. I think once it starts it will really pick up momentum.
Wiegman has been keen to play down expectations, amid competition from Spain, Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands, but the Lionesses have world-class talent and have come through Cup qualifying of the world and their warm-up matches.
As always, the tournament is as much about the here and now as it is about the continued growth of the sport, and England captain Leah Williamson believes the team is ready to do both.
“It’s the right time,” said the Arsenal defender. “We are here for the long haul and we are building something for future generations and hopefully something lasting.
“I’m happy to be part of the journey now, but I’m so jealous of these little girls who are going to follow in our footsteps.”