Women’s football is on the rise in America. Attitudes of players and fans are both changing towards the game.
Growing up in the States, the avenues to see or purchase USA kits or even Club kits have been very slim.
In the past, it would have been very common to walk into your local sporting goods store and not find a single item that would represent a football team.Embed from Getty Images
As time has elapsed, men’s kits and Club shirts have started appearing in stores nationwide. It has not been until recently that fans of women’s sport have had the same accessibility to the game.
Sports have always fascinated me, and I can name a plethora of male athletes who have changed the game. We cannot forget the women who have also developed the game of football, as we know it, in the States.
Growing up with football in America
As a young kid who got into football, a role model I had was Mia Hamm. I got to see the 99ers bring home the Women’s World Cup for the first time in history!
I remember the controversial call that inundated the news when Brandi Chastain’s goal celebration shook the world. It created a discussion of how women should celebrate in such awe-inspiring victories.Embed from Getty Images
These ladies and this team helped change the face of women’s football and what it means to be a team on a mission. Young women and girls during this time had the same dream as me. To be a player on the United States Women’s National Team.
This is when the movement began to catch a spark. Football as a whole is the fourth most popular sport in America.
Football has had a slow start in America, but the American’s interest in the game has increased into what could now be classified as the pinnacle.
In the small city in which I live, football was not popular. Not many girls’ club teams were available and some school did not offer the sport at all. I used to tell people what sport I played and loved, and they would look at me funny.
The older I got, the more the game grew and the looks subsided. The club teams in this area have gotten better because of the facilities that have been provided and dedicated to the sport.
Many schools in my district have been involved in back-to-back championships due to the training and facilities we have to improve our players and grow the game.
The rise of American grassroots football
In 2015, there were 350,000 girls that were playing football in high schools across the country. That’s 47% of all high school sportswomen in the country.
The sport grew in popularity even more as those ladies moved into University play. The US Men’s team opened America’s eyes to the game of football.Embed from Getty Images
It was the 99ers and Jill Ellis have especially spearheaded the game to what it is today.
Jill Ellis became the USWNT interim coach in 2012 and 2014. This UK native has had her fair share of victories before taking the helm as USWNT head coach.
She became one of the most winningest coach in NCAA history for Women’s Football at university level.
Her record was 248-63-14 over the course of 14 years at the University of California at Los Angeles and at the University of Illinois. With her record, it was obvious why she was requested to coach at the National level.
Ellis was named as the Head Coach in May 2014 with the focus on the World Cup within the coming year. She was tasked with winning it, which she did brilliantly.
That win was the defining moment, which created rapid discussion concerning Women’s football.
The National Women’s Soccer League, NWSL, had more fuel as the league welcomed more international stars to its list of players spread out across the country.
The SheBelieves cup
A ripple effect of the Women’s World Cup success led to the SheBelieves Cup that has been held every year in the States since 2016.
This Cup invites the best teams from across the world to play in a three-game match in three different venues.
The three teams besides the American hosts would battle in a couple of different cities hoping to entice the crowd with its miraculous goal-scoring abilities – as seen in the World Cup.Embed from Getty Images
The United States of America has won the SheBelieves title twice since its starting date. Other countries that make the list would be France (winning it once) and the current holders, England.
This Cup provided with a chance to see the Women’s National Team play against one of my favourite national teams, England. At Nissan Stadium in my home state, Tennessee.
I had been hoping to see the USWNT play in person and they happened to be playing four hours from where I live. Not to mention, their opposition gave me an excellent excuse to wear my England kit.
The SheBelieves Cup moves from state to state with each game giving different areas of the country the opportunity to see and experience the atmosphere of football from a personal perspective.
The ever-expanding world of football in the southeast
As the game has continued to grow, there’s an excitement that we now have several professional club teams, both from the NWSL and the Men’s MLS represented within the Southeast area of the United States.
Teams include Atlanta United, Orlando Pride, North Carolina Courage, and Orlando City.
With expansions in the works, we shall soon be seeing Louisville, Inter Miami, and Nashville coming to the scene.
Since our country is so widespread, the continued growth of the NWSL and MLS is making an impact in our country’s involvement in changing the way Americans think of football.
World Cup joy
With the Men’s National Team missing out of the World Cup, this year the Women made a definitive statement.
We are here and we will win no matter what!
They made it into the round of 16 with no problems at all. As the team dwindled down, their hardest matches from the World Cup were seen in their last three games.
Goals decreased in number and the teams gave the Americas a run for their money. The US made it through to the final and secured their fourth Women’s World Cup and their second title in a row.
Growing NWSL coverage
Due to this growing fan base of women’s sports, ESPN decided to pick up NWSL games to regularly feature them on their broadcasting network.
If the matches are not shown on that platform, Yahoo Sports has made them available to watch anywhere.
It is time to say that Americans are catching on. They are wanting more from women’s sports in general, but especially women’s football.
The view of football here in the States is now looking to female players as front-runners for promotional value.
As a grassroots coach, it is simply amazing to see the opportunities my girls now have. Especially in comparison to what I experienced as a teenage girl.
The evolution of women’s play here in America is ever-changing. I cannot wait to see what the upcoming years bring!