The Lionesses legacy
What a month for our Lionesses and for football as a whole. Although this is the fourth successive tournament for the Lionesses, we have never really seen the entire country get behind them with the same hope and passion, as they have this month. The 2022 European Championships have certainly shone a light and created a buzz around women’s football in a way we’ve never really seen before. From the sold-out stadiums around the country to the hype on social media, it was so clear to see that so many of us stood behind England and willed them to become European Champions.
The tournament kicked off for the Lionesses facing group rivals Austria where Beth Mead’s lob secured a 1-0 win.
This was followed by an astounding 8-0 win against Norway at the Amex Stadium in Brighton, where Beth Mead scored again, but this time bagging a hat trick, Ellen White scored two and Georgia Stanway, Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo also got a goal each, giving the Lionesses confidence to storm through to the final game of the group stage knowing they were through to the next round.
I was lucky enough to work at the UEFA Women’s Euro’s as the Accreditation Manager of the Brighton venue, so I was able to see the impact that this tournament is having on the women and girls game across the country. Women, children and men alike were proudly walking around Brighton donning Lionnesses shirts with the names of Bronze and Mead on the back, men were debating whether or not Russo’s goal was the best goal they’d ever seen! The buzz after the ENG v NOR game was the best I’ve ever experienced, and I’m genuinely excited for the future of this sport!
The next stage saw England take on Spain in the knockout round. Despite Spain looking extremely strong and giving the Lionesses a run for their money, they managed to score in extra time, bagging them a 2-1 win over the Spaniards and securing them a place in the semi-final.
Despite the pressure mounted upon them by the media and being in a semi-final of a major tournament brings, the Lionesses managed to remain composed and won 4-0 against Sweden whilst a total of 9.3million people watched across the country.
Finally, yesterday England faced Germany in the Euro 2022 final at Wembley Stadium, with the whole country behind them and a record crowd of 87,192 within Wembley itself. This set a new attendance record for a European international game. Euro 2022 also smashed the record across the whole tournament with 574,875 attendances at games, the previous record, only 240,055 at the 2017 finals.
It was an incredibly well-fought game with the Lionesses showing their composure, patience and class through to the end. The German team came with a strong game plan and were putting the England players under pressure, attempting to get in their heads with constant fouling in the first half particularly. England had a great first half but unfortunately didn’t make the most of the chances, the pressure and dominance they showed.
The second half started with the Germans having been boosted by their team talk and coming out strong. It was our Lionesses that took the lead in the 62nd minute with a delightful lob from Ella Toone sending everyone jumping out of their seats, celebrating and even more hopeful. This was short-lived, you could feel the pressure rising a few minutes later after they hit the post, an equaliser seeming inevitable and eventually coming in the 79th minute. Into extra time.
We had to wait until the 110th minute for the eventual winner to be smashed home from Chloe Kelly and send the country crazy. The first major tournament win for England since 1966, record attendances, and girls and women being inspired by the successes of the Lionesses.
Being at Wembley yesterday was so special. Witnessing a capacity crowd and an England win in a final for a women's football match was incredible. Leah Williamson and her team have inspired a nation through their entertaining football and have become role models to so many. Most importantly, perceptions of women's football have changed, more people appreciate the quality on the pitch and have realised women and girls do have a place in football. This win will inspire more people to support women's football or to play this beautiful game so it's important that this momentum continues and we keep striving to grow the sport and provide opportunities for women and girls' to get involved.
The tournament has successfully raised the profile of the sport, the players, it has seen huge stadiums being sold out, record breakings numbers of people watching all over the world and inspiring the next generation.
Get involved in footballHave you ever wanted to get involved in a new sport, but completely ruled out football, until now? For so long, it has seemed as though football is a mans sport, with women’s football being almost like a sub-sport to this. Thanks to the Lionesses and the Euros this year, this stereotype is being broken and they are receiving the recognition, support and adoration they deserve.
The University of Portsmouth Women’s Football Club are a performance club, which means they compete at the highest level of BUCS competitions each year. The club play in the Premier South, the top league for University sport. Whether you are an avid football fan and player, or you want to try something new after being inspired by the Euros, everyone is welcome to join.
We believe that playing sport is so important for improving mental and physical health so joining Women’s Football at University can positively impact your life and encourage great social interactions with like-minded people. The Women’s Euro’s 2022 has been incredible as it has shown that Women can play and perform at a phenomenal level and we hope it can further encourage girls to believe in themselves as Women’s football has come such a long way.
Perhaps you have children who want to get involved in football after getting swept up in the hype of the Euros, there are plenty of opportunities for them to get involved in the sport too. You can contact Jack Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07854784385 to find out more about the Soccer Scholar Academy and Portsmouth College Girls Football opportunities. Soccer Scholar Academy also run Wildcats sessions to help girls make the first step into football, the fun drop-in sessions help to develop skills and provide opportunities to then join a girls-only team.