Women’s football: A love letter to 2021

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The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Despair, relief and belief. Huge setbacks and even bigger comebacks. Dear 2021, you had it all. Has a year of women’s football ever been more exciting? Probably not.

With more exposure and support, there’s a lot to look forward to. However, let’s stay on this rollercoaster of a year just a little bit longer.

The Women’s Champions League 

With love comes the feeling of thousands of butterflies flying in your stomach, both likely to make you barf and smile simultaneously. A feeling similar to what both supporters and players feel before kick-off.

The Champions League final in May presented the aftermath of this feeling. Barcelona left Gamla Ullevi with a sense of euphoria and invincibility. They were on top of the world. Since then, they’ve continued on that path.

Chelsea, on the other hand, were left heartbroken and massively disappointed. They also ended 2021 on a sour note, as the team surprisingly didn’t make it through the group stage.

The 2021/22 tournament has brought millions of viewers through the DAZN YouTube channel. Combined with the overall expansion of the competition, it has contributed to bringing the Women’s Champions League to the next level. Especially in regards to professionalism, which the players deserve.

As a women’s football fan, it’s been amazing to witness the engagement and enthusiasm all over the world. Furthermore, the semi-finals will be exciting to follow next year. Will Barcelona defend their title? Can Lyon regain it, or will there be a new winner?

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Europe’s top leagues

It’s been thrilling to watch the battles of France and Germany, with the respective leagues having a close title race until the very last second. Not unlike a fairytale, PSG won Division 1 Féminine for the first time in their history.

Furthermore, Bayern Munich ended Wolfsburg’s dominant reign in German football by winning the Frauen-Bundesliga.

Speaking of dominance, the Barcelona team once again won the Spanish Primera División Femenina. Masterfully some might say.

In the Italian league — Serie A Femminile— Juventus were crowned champions for the fourth consecutive year. Additionally, they managed to stay unbeaten in the league.

Lastly, Chelsea won the domestic quadruple. Quite simply an impressive achievement.

The Olympics

This tournament was one of the highlights of the summer. There wasn’t a shortage of passion in the Japanese heat and humidity. It was obvious how hard the teams had to work to maintain focus and fight together to succeed. And they did.

The USA managed to grab the bronze medal, even though they started with a heavy defeat in the first game against Sweden. The Swedes had a perfect run, until the final where they were beaten by Canada on penalties. Heart-wrenching for captain Caroline Seger and her team. Magnificent for all-time top goal scorer Christine Sinclair and her nation.

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Individual highlights

Challenges, sacrifice and heart. Every single female footballer has been an inspiration in 2021. They’ve given us fans an escape from reality by playing the beautiful game. Their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Hopefully, they know how grateful we fans are for giving us a sense of normality in a year that has been anything but normal.

The players have performed both without and in front of a crowd. Many have had a fantastic year in terms of play. Some an extraordinary one. Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas for example.

Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr have been nothing but a super duo. Ada Hegerberg has come back in style. Lena Oberdorf has proved she’s one of the biggest stars of the future. Fridolina Rolfö has shown her class. The list goes on and on. 

Thank you, next!

I think we all feel pretty done with 2021, however, it’s been a good one for women’s football. Record attendances, more national teams introducing equal pay and increased media coverage. As the year has now ended, take a moment to reflect and let’s learn from the lowest lows but cherish the highest highs. Together let’s keep breaking records, pushing boundaries and growing the sport. Women’s football is far from done. 2022 — bring it on!

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