‘I hope to see change’: Female footballers on why the Lionesses’ win was so important

‘What I want to come from this is more respect for the women’s game’

Last night the women’s team for England brought football home and the support for the Lionesses was at an all-time high. Wembley Stadium was packed at over 87,000 and the match was watched in over 17.5 million households – it was wild.

Just over 100 years ago, women’s football was banned by the FA and though we’ve come such a long way since, there’s a lot more to be done. Leah Williamson, the captain of the women’s England squad, isn’t even a full-time football player – this isn’t her main job. She did all of this whilst still training to be an accountant. The Tab spoke to four women in football about the importance of last night’s win and what it now can change and do for women in sports and football. This is what they had to say.

‘The best is only yet to come’

Molly has been going to football matches since she was 10 and remembers feeling inspired then. But since the big win last night for England’s Lionesses she says she’s currently feeling “proud, emotional and ecstatic”. Molly was at Wembley last night when the women’s team won and she says it was a “momentous moment for the girls who play or have played whether it’s Sunday league, grassroots football or have made it to the top of their game.”

Now Molly is 24-years-old and says this win has made her excited to see what else is to come for Women’s football. She says she can feel a turning point which was needed and “it’s become a topic of conversation with people who have never watched or been interested in women’s football.”

Molly continues: “I hope that this creates more opportunities for not only playing the game at a high level, but having more opportunities for youngsters who are just starting out or who have been inspired by the euros. The best is only yet to come, and if there’s only one thing each person can take out of this inspiring Lionesses team is continue to support them and their club teams too.”

via @mollysianod on Instagram

“Go to the Women’s Super League this upcoming season, the atmospheres in the stadiums are going to be the best we’ve ever experienced. Say goodbye to those that always comment on Sky Sports to BBC Sport that women shouldn’t play football or belong in the kitchen. Let’s remind them of who brought the football home, it was the women who made sure of that.”

‘I am hoping to see change’

Nailah who plays for South London Women’s FC told The Tab watching the girls win last night was amazing because they played with “passion and great skill”. She says a win like this will show the country and world that women’s football is worth investing in and that women are meant to be in the game.

via @_nailahh on Instagram

She also hopes to see more big and small companies investing in women and the sport in general. Naliah says: “I am hoping to see change in the amount of fans we attract and the level of support we have. I think it will have a major impact on the future of women’s football.”

‘I hope the legacy of this victory goes beyond football’

Lucy also plays for South London Women’s FC and she says the Lionesses’ victory is huge, “not just on the pitch, but off it too”. She says: “All the years of fighting for space, of not being taken seriously, of sitting in empty stands watching players who train and play after finishing their day jobs – or having to pay to play, rather than be paid – it feels like a vindication for all that.

“I love that for girls growing up now, it’s totally normal to see women on TV playing football. When I was a child, it would have blown my mind to see women on TV playing football.”

Lucy says she hopes to see new teams and clubs opening up across the country at grassroots level as a result of this big Euros win. “I think these days it’s not so much about girls not being allowed to play; I think it’s about access and opportunities”, she says.

She continues: “I’ve heard so many stories of girls not having a club to join in their area. Hopefully this will change that, and girls all over the country will be able to play wherever and whenever they want to play. I hope as well that when young children think about sport, they don’t think ‘oh that’s a boys sport’ or ‘that’s a girls sport’. I hope the legacy of this victory goes beyond football and in that it opens all sport up to everyone.”

‘What I want to come from this is more respect for the women’s game’

via @georginab_93 on Instagram

Georgina is one of the vice captains at South London Women’s FC and she says it feels incredible right now and she has spent the whole day today watching highlights and videos on social media. She says: “What I really want to come from this is more respect for the women’s game – especially at grassroots level. We need good coaches, good pitches and good refs, and too often we lose to the men’s team. I also want pubs to play the Women’s Super League matches.”

Georgina was at Wembley yesterday when England were playing. She described the atmosphere as “electric”. She says: “There was no nastiness, no booing anthems, it was such a good atmosphere. We didn’t have any German fans sitting near us but I could see they were all mixed in with everyone else which is completely off the table for a men’s game.”

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