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The History of Women’s Football

Football is a sport loved and viewed by billions around the planet. The sport dates back to the 1800s and has grown ever since, played and loved by everybody. However, it has not always been this way.

Back in the 1800s, in England, football clubs for men were created around the country.

However, it was hidden from the public in those times that women also tried to get involved with the sport and small women’s teams began to form. The first-ever women’s football club created was the British Ladies FC in 1895 based in north London which was played mostly by women in the middle class.

Their first fixture was played in the south of London and had an audience of 12,000 people! Unfortunately, the club then had to fold as it was widely discouraged by both the press and the public at the time as it wasn’t ladylike.

The First World War came around and the football association had to suspend the men’s league in 1915 and postpone all games until 1919.

However, it was around this time that women’s football started to thrive. Around 150 women’s teams were born and charity matches between these teams were a way to raise money to fund aid for the war. The biggest fixture at the time was Dick Kerr’s Ladies FC, who were the first-ever women’s team to play an international match against a team of French women from Paris.

Women’s football kept growing, and on Boxing Day in 1920, a women’s match had sold out Everton’s Goodison Park with 53,000 seats filled and 10,000 spectators turned away at the gates.

Unfortunately, it all went downhill after this as the English Football Association, which was run by Lord Kinnaird, put a stop to the game. December 5th, 1921 was the day the FA banned women from competing in their ground as well as using training facilities.

It took 50 years for this ban to be lifted. After the men’s World Cup in 1970, Mexico held an unofficial tournament for women. An unofficial team took part to represent England, but England did not win.

However, their game against the Mexican home side was viewed by an attendance of 80,000. The English Football Association finally drew an end to their ban the following year in 1971. The first Women’s World Cup was held 20 years later in China in 1991.

Although England didn’t qualify for this tournament, it was still a huge growth for women’s football worldwide. The final was between Norway and the United States which the USA went and won 2-1 and had an attendance of 63,000 people.

1993 was the year the FA announced cup competitions and developed the Women’s National League and the FA’s Premier League, in which 137 teams were entered.

A few years later in 2005, the UEFA Women’s Championship was played in England. The opening match attracted 29,092 spectators with another 2.9 million people viewing live on BBC Two, despite England getting knocked out of the group stages. There were a total of 115,816 fans in the 15 matches played.

The Women’s Premier League took massive growth in 2008 when Everton beat Arsenal 1-0, which put an end to Arsenal’s winning streak in front of a crowd of 24,582 people.

Just three years later, the Women’s Super League (FA WSL), an eight-team summer competition, was launched and Arsenal went on to lift the title alongside the WSL Cup and the Continental Cup that year.

However, after all this growth, there was still a vague amount of local football clubs for young girls wanting to develop. Also, a large amount of PE teachers in schools nationally did not let girls participate in football during school time and did not provide after-school football clubs for girls.

Last year and this year were history-making for England. The Lionesses beat Germany in the Euro final for the first time, adding to the first silverware for England since 1966 when England’s men’s team won the World Cup.

The Euro final, which was held at Wembley Stadium, set new attendance records as 87,192 seats were filled in the stadium to roar for the Lionesses. This was the highest number of football fans ever recorded at Wembley.

Not only did England win the Euros but they also made it to the Final of the Women’s World Cup this year, giving the world a reason why sexism in sports should be non-existent.

Since the final last year in the Euros and the World Cup this year, Women’s football has received so much more attention and funding for newer clubs and more girls to become inspired to play.

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