What Can We Take from the England Lionesses’ Performance this Summer?

by | 10th July 2019

Watching the England Lionesses this summer has been a real treat for me. Especially as I have watched all the games with my two young sons and some of their friends. In particular for me, I have loved hearing the girls and boys of our younger generations talking about the players; who their favourite is, who they would like to be like when they grow up, who is the best striker of the ball, who should take the penalties.

I have listened to young boys & girls from the age of 5 upwards talk about the background of many of the players, where they went to school, what got them into football and then listened to these same youngsters relate this to their lives, their ambitions and their belief that they too could become an England Lioness. This World Cup has been the first time that I can recall that being a professional female football player has become a reality for so many. This is where we will reap the rewards from in 10 years time, this is where the strength and depth of a future team will come from. This is where the next Ellen White, Steph Houghton or Nikita Parris will be made.

For me, a lot of my enjoyment around the FIFA Women’s World Cup has come from reading articles and social media posts about the tournament but also from talking on the school playground and at social events with people of all ages about how brilliantly England were doing, and without a single comparison to male football. This was a wonderful revelation to me after years of listening to people down play the efforts of women in most sports.

It obviously helped that we progressed so far in the tournament. We all love to believe that ‘Footballs coming home!’ The joy of the wins and the enjoyment of watching fabulous football, with bucket loads of skill and passion on show was amazing and inspiring. Seeing a sport, that is relatively new, where the negative elements of the game, like diving and swearing and aggression towards officials have never been tolerated made the game (that I already love to watch) even more impressive.

Having said all that, I think that losing in the semi-finals, with so many young females watching that spectacle will in the long run be the best thing that could have happened for our 8, 9 and 10 year old girls that were watching (and I hate losing anything so that is hard to say for me). The lesson of losing is a big one. One that brings with it emotions that are hard to handle – even if you are just watching from the sofa. The way in which the Lionesses have handled themselves throughout the tournament, but particularly at a time of failure will be something that will teach our young, aspiring, girls more than anything. They will have learned that hard work pays off but cannot always be rewarded with the ultimate prize. They will have learned that losing hurts and makes you want to blame people but that this is not an option. They will have learned that success is something that you have to believe in, work for and persevere at. They will have learned that passion in anything cannot be the only way to success. In short, they will learn about life in all its glory and pain through the medium of sport.

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