Millions might be watching England in the World Cup, but women’s football has been attracting crowds for years

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 June 2018

The Collier Row girls football team.

The Collier Row girls football team.

Collier Row FC

England flags are proudly flying and chants of God Save the Queen can be heard across the country, as the World Cup continues to grip millions of viewers.

The British Ladies' Football Club hosted the first ever public women's football match in 1895, in Crouch End, played by its north and south divisions. Picture: Eastside Community HeritageThe British Ladies' Football Club hosted the first ever public women's football match in 1895, in Crouch End, played by its north and south divisions. Picture: Eastside Community Heritage

But while everyone is more than happy to get behind the team, what about the talented women leading the way in the sport?

Hayley Anderson finds out more about women’s football and its place in 2018.

The likes of Harry Kane, Neymar and Ronaldo are already proving they are worth every penny of their multi-million pound salaries, just two weeks into the World Cup, which is bound to inspire young people to take up the game themselves.

But women have been thriving in the sport long before 2018, the 2012 Olympics when members of the England team represented the UK and decades prior to the release of the 2002 smash hit film Bend it like Beckham starring Keira Knightly.

It all started in the 1890s when there were a number of women’s clubs, with one in north London which attracted around 10,000 people to a game that was being played in Crouch End.

Over time, football grew even more popular and in the 1920s one match even attracted 50,000 spectators and 150 women’s teams were set up in England.

Despite the game being at its height during this time, The FA (Football Association) decided to ban women’s football from its grounds as it viewed the sport as “quite unsuitable for females”.

This perspective only changed towards the end of the 1960s, which is seen by some as a key reason why women’s football still lags behind the men’s game today.

However, secretary of the Collier Row Football Club, including the Ladies Tigers team, Mark Lee, believes the sport will continue to grow among women and girls over the next few years.

“I think it is definitely gradually growing the number of girls we have that are interested in playing football”, he said.

“There aren’t as many girls teams that are close to us so we have to go out a bit to places like Harlow to play other teams but I think over the years there will be more development in the area.

“It’s not growing as fast as the boys teams we’ve definitely had a lot more wanting to find out whether they are any good at it.

“There’s a dance school on the grounds where we are and girls might go in there and take dance and ballet but then also play football as well so it’s all about opening the doors to them so they are able to do both.”

The Collier Row FC, which won the Essex County FA Charter Standard Development Club of the Year award last year, was originally founded in 1962 and to date, it has a total of 36 teams including boys, girls as well as a Senior Set Up team.

Among the teams, there is also a well-established Ladies Tigers team which play in the premier division of the Essex County Womens League as well as a newly formed Ladies Athletic team which is playing in division one for the second year running.

The club, based at The Forest Row Centre, Lodge Lane, Collier Row, wants to encourage even more girls and women to take up the sport and is hoping that this year’s World Cup will inspire more to play the game.

Mark said: “If you’re not sure if you want to be part of a team and want a kick about, then come along and see for yourself if you do like it because you never know unless you try.

“We try and make it as accessible as possible no matter what gender or age.

“There are so many girls and women who love to watch football and are enjoying the World Cup at the moment so why not actually play the game as well.”

To find out more information about the club, visit here

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