Since the mid 1800s, football began as a game that boys and men played, much like most sports. Back then, all sports were for the male gender. Women were told it wasn’t lady-like to participate in such events. Women’s football made headlines in England in the late 1800s. That was when the Ladies’ Football Association was first pioneered by women from the suffrage movement. Although it didn’t last (the league dispersed thanks to organizational problems), it paved the way for the future of women’s football even back then.
So women’s football has been around for quite some time. Why, then, has it largely gone unnoticed for so long that people think it’s new?
Perhaps it’s because men’s football gets all the funding and prestige. It’s been televised for ages. And although women’s football has been around for a good length of time, we’re just now starting to see it gain a huge surge in popularity on the television.
And thanks to those television ratings, the numbers prove that women’s football is captivating audiences. Young girls nowadays get the distinct privilege of watching female athletes compete in sports. It’s these female athletes that serve as positive role models for our growing girls.
In fact, football is now the most popular of the team sports for girls as well as women across the globe. Plus, with the excitement of the World Cup, it’s giving young girls something more to strive for than just playing on the high school football team or in after school leagues.
Women’s football is more than just a team sport. It is the catalyst that is helping ignite the way for women’s rights. Girls of this generation will not be told that they should be doing something more girly like playing with dolls, making tea or taking a dance class. And while there’s nothing wrong with girly things, it’s important to remember that not all girls are girly-girls. And not all girly-girls are all girly all the time. For some, team sports is a way to take out stress and build bonds by working hard with a team to achieve goals, as well as score them.
One of the biggest hurdles this sport is still overcoming though is sexism. It’s still considered primarily a man’s sport. But this antiquated thinking is taking a beating as women’s football stars like Casey Stoney, Rachel Yankey, and Katie Chapman, to name a few, are making headlines, proving to young girls everywhere that they too can rise to the ranks and conquer the field.
If your young girl is interested in football, or any other sport for that matter, be sure to encourage her too. Maybe she’ll only play for fun after school or maybe she’ll grow up to be a football champion. But whatever she grows up to be, she’ll be better for it because of the great lessons she’ll learn and the wonderful friendships she’ll build along the way.