September 09, 2019

Women’s Super League: talking points from the weekend’s action | Rachel Brown-Finnis
Record crowds only added to the excitement on an opening weekend where newcomers Manchester United and Spurs both impressed despite losingI’ve played at World Cups and in Olympics, been at tournaments where attendances and TV viewing figures have been amazing, and as players you’re thinking, ‘What effect is this going to have on the domestic league, and on my club?’ And then a few weeks later you’re playing in front of a few hundred people, and reality hits. There have been a lot of false dawns, but it looks like this year might be different. What I felt had changed during this World Cup was that it wasn’t just England games that were really well watched and followed, but the tournament grew in momentum as it progressed until people were tuning in whatever nations were involved. Following all this from France was sometimes spine-tingling. This time the FA was ready to capitalise on the momentum, and on the commercial side the game has made massive leaps. I remember when teams would launch their new kits using players from their men’s team and women models. It used to infuriate me, when the women players were just being ignored. Now we’re seeing our Lionesses become the faces of their clubs. It hasn’t just happened by accident: the FA has put in massive resources over the last 15 years which have got us to this point. Having been a small part of it personally, I feel really proud of where the game is now. On the opening weekend of the new season Chelsea’s women played a league game at Stamford Bridge for the first time, and Manchester City did the same at the Etihad. I was at the Manchester derby, where there was a great atmosphere. Blue and red shirts mingled peacefully, and the people there were a real cross-section of the community: men, women, families, older men and women, a lot of people who maybe had not experienced women’s football before but were drawn by the opportunity to support their sides at the Etihad, on the back of what they had seen at the World Cup this summer. If we continue giving people the opportunity to access women’s football, the game will continue to grow.
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