The Rise of Women’s Football: Thriving in the real and virtual worlds

For generations, women’s football has remained firmly in the shadows of the male equivalent. Lacking heavy financial sponsorship or a fan base capable of generating intense rivalry, the female game has lacked impetus for some time and was apparently consigned to a life of relative obscurity. This has changed in recent times, as the women’s game finally benefitted from some forward momentum and edged into the national spotlight.

The rise of Women’s Football: From World Cup Success to Virtual Recognition 

This process began when the England team first stepped off their plane in Canada for the current World Cup tournament. After a series of gutsy and skilful performances, England recovered from defeat against France to reach their first quarter final (against the holders Canada). Against the odds they emerged victorious with a 2-1 win, as two early first-half strikes were enough to book a debut semi-final appearance against Japan. They have subsequently emulated the male squads of 1966 and 1990, and etched their names in the annals of history.

As if this is not enough, long-running gaming franchise FIFA also announced that the upcoming 2016 version will be the first to include female players. There has been pressure on the brand to do this for the last couple of years, and it has finally succumbed after the success of the women’s team in Canada. Prominently featured players will include America’s Alex Morgan and England’s Stephanie Houghton, both of whom have starred at the recent tournament. A total of 12 full international teams will feature, with England included alongside Brazil, Spain, Canada and Germany.

What Next for Women’s Football in England? 

With women’s football in England now firmly in the public conscience, there is a unique opportunity for the governing bodies to capitalise on this for the good of the game. The profile of the game will be raised be significantly by the performance of the English team, while the presence of female players on FIFA 16 will also strike a chord with gamers throughout the UK.

The next step is for the authorities to secure long-term funding in the game, which can be committed to developing grass-roots players and marketing the sport on a global scale. From here fans and rivalries can be forged, bringing women’s football closer to competing with the men’s game.

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