It has been a long road towards women’s football being able to be seen as wanting to be watched by fans.
From my own previous experience, I first watched England in the 2015 World Cup in Canada. However, it wasn’t until lockdown in 2020 that I started to follow the game more as it was available on TV.
For those that are curious, and, perhaps those that do not know much about the women’s game, here are some reasons why women’s football may appeal for you to watch.
Before you read on, a lot of this article is based on the UK and my own experience.
Matches in the Women’s Super League (WSL) are very easy to access. If you live in the UK, there is a chance that you will be able to see teams on TV. Some of them you may have heard of before, but might not have known much about their women’s side.
If you live outside of the UK, the FA player will be your best friend. They show coverage from all WSL games as well as the hotly contested Championship, with many being shown live. This is free and with no subscription, it is a perfect way to showcase the sport.
Outside of this, if you decided to go to the games, many of the stadiums are quite easy to access. For example, the nearest club to me is Liverpool, who play their home games at Tranmere’s Prenton Park. The ground is about a half an hour walk from the local train station, or you can get a bus.
It just shows you may not know what could be near your doorstep.
The cost of a Premier League ticket to see one team play at home can skyrocket. Some people could pay up and over £200, which might not even cover transport to get to these games.
When you consider travel and food costs, you might end up paying quite a lot of money — and that is even without buying any merchandise.
In the WSL, the price for an adult ticket is usually about £10, with some up to £15. If you wanted a season ticket, the price can range from as little as £20-£80, but this also covers matches in the FA Cup and League Cup as well as league matches.
Additionally, a matchday program can cost just £1.50. By comparison, the recent FA Cup final program was £5.
Fan environment and engagement
Fans themselves create the atmosphere for others, and it is perhaps one of the main reasons people come back again. At my first game, I was able to talk to a few fans and was very appreciative of their own experience and recollections from previous games. Not only that, but they decided to start getting fans involved with singing chants of their favourite players.
The players appreciate the support, from giving time after the final whistle, to taking photos or signing shirts. They will even go around the ground and applaud the fans for coming to the games. It is perhaps because of this appreciation that fans find it much easier to connect with the players, and a mutual respect is created.
This could even expand to the coaching staff as well.
There is a lot of quality in women’s football. Some of the best players in the world have come to the WSL for a wide variety of reasons. Last year there was an influx of US players, such as Sam Mewis, Rose Lavelle, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, and Abby Dahlkemper. However, over the last few years, it isn’t just the US and Canada stars that have joined.
You can now point to many of the WSL clubs that have international experience all over the pitch. Teams represent not only the UK and Ireland, but Australia, Japan and many of the European powerhouses.
The players don’t just have a global appeal, but the quality of the teams themselves makes it completely different to any of the men’s leagues.
To put this into perspective, last season’s runners-up Manchester City were at one point sitting ninth in the table, way behind the top three. Now, they’ve rejoined the chase following a boost in form.
There is a huge battle for the last spot of the Champions League, and the title race is not over yet either.
There have been surprises throughout the season as well, with Arsenal and new manager Jonas Eidvall beating Chelsea on opening day in a 3-2 win. Chelsea went on to get their revenge in the FA Cup Final, beating the Gunners 3-0.
There has been more drama towards the bottom of the league as recently promoted Leicester are battling Birmingham City for survival. As only one team is relegated, it is fascinating to watch who will face the drop come May.
Though it is a more physical game, players are less likely to waste time, unless they are seriously injured. There is a smaller chance that you see a player dive or purposely hold up play. However, fans’ opinions may differ on this topic depending on who you may support.
There are a lot of rivalries in the WSL. From the Manchester derby to London derbies, there is never a short supply of same city battles, including the Midlands. Along with this comes tradition, as well as some friendly banter between each set of supporters.
But, while some of these rivalries are still growing, such as the North London derby, others have been there for a while, such as Chelsea and Manchester City.
Inclusive and diverse
Many fans will feel at home because the players can be open with their own identity. Some of the best players in the league are openly part of the LGBTQ+ community. This has a knock on effect with the supporters, who feel represented at the highest level.
It is something that the men’s game has not acknowledged in the UK, even though fan supporters’ groups include a wide and diverse group of people. Some even dedicate themselves to fly the LGBTQ+ colours as well as support a football team.
So why not try women’s football? You can watch from your living room, or perhaps attend a local game. Or maybe you have a family that loves football, but don’t want to pay a lot just to watch the game you love.
In women’s football, everyone is welcome.