That’s What She Said! – An Olympic Special

Story by Sarah Mobbs

This week in ‘That’s What She Said’, I suppose it’s time I talk about the inevitable. “What might that be?” you ask. Well, with a female writer on football, I think it’s high time we discussed women’s football. While men’s football dominates the sporting world, the number of women in football and indeed the quality of women’s football is certainly on the rise, and with both sexes competing for Team GB in this summer’s Olympic Games it will be interesting to see just how well each team does and whether a triumph for the women’s team will bolster opinions towards women’s football.

With the men’s team being overrun by big names like Giggs, Cleverly and Sturridge, it is no wonder that the women’s team seems to have been overlooked, yet, the women kicked off well, winning 1-0 against New Zealand, with the men drawing against Senegal. While some may be of the opinion that women’s football is simply “easier” I think this is possibly one of the stupidest things I’ve heard- the women are playing competitively against other women of much the same skill and I have to admit, I’ve seen much more passion from the women in Team GB than from the men; to the women, it’s their chance to shine, prove what they can do, and be part of a global event, to the men, it’s simply another tournament.

In terms of the last couple of years, the only real difference between the England women’s and men’s teams, is that we all know the names of those on the men’s team. In 2011 during the Women’s World Cup, England were knocked out at the quarter finals, much like our men’s team during this year’s men’s World Cup. Yet still women’s football is overlooked as a “real” spectator sport, but then again, many women’s sports are not deemed popular enough to broadcast. And I would really like to know why this is. It seems the men-folk must really like watching other men get sweaty and dirty… Anything you’d like to tell us boys? Or perhaps it’s down to that time-old battle cry “Men are better at everything” so men’s football is simply more entertaining?

On a more serious note, sponsors have clearly recognised a woman’s potential on the football pitch. The women’s semi-professional league offered women the chance to start earning a decent wage from the game, but more importantly, sponsors such as Umbro and Yorkshire Building Society allowed clubs to begin bringing revenue. And it’s not just sponsors, last year the FA launched the WSL (Women’s Summer League) which comprises of 8 elite women’s teams who play, you guessed it, through the summer. So while it seems the men’s teams can’t stand the heat (English weather dictates that by the start of the new season in August it’s usually raining again) the women power on through the summer, not just training, but still competing.

My “burning question” (testament to Joanna Huntington) is this; if the women’s football team do well in the Olympic Games, maybe even, bring home a medal, will women be more accepted on the football pitch? And more to the point, will anybody actually bother to watch the women’s football?

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