The winter months are kicking in, and for the majority of women in Britain, most are likely to be found trawling the country’s shopping centres and squeezing their feet into the latest patent leather stiletto shoe, in the hope that it matches the sparkly outfit they just purchased for the annual office Christmas party.
This scenario will ring true for hundreds of women. But not every woman in Britain owns a Topshop loyalty card and would faint if they were asked to live without their mascara for a week. There are always of course, the women you will find down the pub, proudly wearing their beloved team’s strip, pint of lager in hand, bellowing loudly at the TV screen.
Football, especially in the UK, has always been linked to men and masculinity. When we think of football, we’re unlikely to conjure up an image of eleven femme fatale’s running around a field, hair flowing wildly in the wind. (Though of course this would never happen – hair would naturally be tied up, but go with the image)
However, there is no denying that football is widely regarded as a man’s game. A Beautiful Game, certainly, but a man’s one nevertheless. Statistics have shown in the past that the number of women playing team sports as a full time professional in the UK is zero. But with the ever increasing amount of women’s football players and ladies
Vicki Christopher, captain of the women’s football team at the University of Winchester, thinks this is most certainly the case.
She says: “Women’s football is definitely on the up. Over the last few years our university football team has increased in numbers considerably. It used to be the case at school where boys played football and girls played netball. Nowadays though, school kids have a much better balance of sports.”
Maureen McGonigle from Scottish Women’s Football has a similar view. She believes although it has much catching up to do to be on the same par with men’s, women’s football is now becoming recognised globally as the fastest growing team sport for women.
“It’s growing constantly. Women’s football offers so many opportunities for everyone, whether it be as a referee, a coach, or even an administrate. Somebody once said that ‘The future is feminine’, and this confirms the belief held by many who have watched the amazing growth of the game for women and girls.”
But where did it all start? Believe it or not, women have been kicking a ball around a pitch for almost a century. It first became popular on a large scale at the time of the first World War, around 1917.
Women’s roles started to change as they took on jobs and responsibilities that had always previously been fulfilled by men. Wartime women’s teams were usually started in order to raise money for war charities.
The most successful team of this era was Dick Kerrs Ladies of Preston. They played to average crowds of 2,500 with all their proceeds going towards charitable causes.