Who Enjoyed the Women’s World Cup?

Posted on August 20, 2023

I quite enjoyed the women’s World Cup. There were some good games and of course England did very well. Ultimately, they got stuffed in the final (if you can be stuffed 1-0) but they showed great team spirit to get as far as they did. They got the rub of the green against Nigeria in the last 16 but not in the final.

But did it grip the nation in the way the media tried to make us believe? I think it spiked an interest but personally, I was never gripped (the second-half versus Australia apart) like I have been in men’s tournaments. Intriguingly though, I was more gripped than a lot of young lads I know who are keen football supporters.

More Interest from Older Men?

I found it interesting that elder men on our recent cricket club tour were far more supportive of the women than the younger men. I couldn’t understand that psychology. Surely logic would lean to elder men being less accepting women invading their sporting territory? Then, one of the chaps at our cricket club gave me a light bulb moment today. He is a year older than me.

I think the thing is to look at it as a different sport, rather than trying to make a direct comparison to men’s football”, he said. He was so right. So much has been said about the English women showing the men the way forward. There has been numerous tweets and memes about the women having to ‘bring it home’ because the men had tried and failed since 1966. This implies they are suddenly better than men and more reliable on the sporting stage.

Bringing it Home

if the Lionesses were to ‘bring home’ what England were trying to ‘bring home’ since 1966, they’d have to beat the German, French, Spanish, Brazilian and Argentina men’s teams first. The truth is, they couldn’t beat the San Marino men’s team, so convoluting the two is a nonsensical load of old tosh. That doesn’t make anyone a sexist, it’s just a fact.

So, I think the reason younger men aren’t as supportive is simple. They watch a lot of football and they know the comparisons are fake. That perspective would change if the narrative was less derogatory to the men’s teams that have, in recent years, narrowly failed against the best people in the world at kicking, controlling and heading a football. At the current time, the England men are one of the top five teams in world football.

Witless Hyperbole

Why not take it for what it is instead of witless hyperbole. Women’s football is great. It’s encouraging young girls to get into sport and be fit and healthy. Girls teams are popping up across the country giving young women access and confidence to indulge in a route to a healthy lifestyle in a country that is sinking under the weight of obesity. Nothing bad can come from that and the team spirit it creates. For that, the England women are genuine role models.

But let’s not pretend it is leading the way and showing men the way it should be done. Women and girls are getting involved in football because of the explosion of its popularity post 1990. It was the World Cup in Italy that galvanised a nation. Football then began its journey into becoming a user friendly entertainment source for the whole family, not just the hooligans of the 70s and 80s.

Football Evolves

Football continues evolve. The women’s game will appear to evolve quicker as it is still in the early stages of a steep learning curve. In comparison to a decade ago, it is already on a different playing field. It is still loaded with basic errors but in another decade those errors will be far less common. Many of the teams are still miles apart. That gap will close as more teams become full-time professionals.

With that thought in mind, England’s women may have just missed their easiest opportunity to ‘bring it home’. I hope they do one day but it will be nothing to do with the men not ‘bringing it home’. There is no equilibrium melting pot. Comparing the two is like sucking on a lemon and saying “that tastes like a jam doughnut”.

In my opinion of course.

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