Emily Brinnand our new Lead coach shares her thoughts on the game…..
“I’ve never seen so many women on prime time TV before! Is this really happening?” was the question that fell out of my mouth while watching England’s first game in the Women’s World Cup against Scotland last week.
Thankfully my friend reassured me I was not dreaming and we continued to watch the game with giddiness. I knew I was witnessing something very important. A football pitch full of talented, brave and hard working women doing what they love. What an inspiration.
England’s victory over Scotland that night broke TV viewing records for the Women’s World Cup attracting an average audience of 4.6 million viewers to BBC One, which means the broadcaster will continue to put these games on the prime time slots.
So why is this so important?
Well as our founder Jane Kenyon has said many a time; “If you can’t see it, you can’t become it.” Teenage girls need female role models to look up to, to admire and to learn from. Having this tournament aired on BBC One and given the attention it deserves is going to have an impact on girls all over the world. They will see women pushing themselves, they will see women supporting each other, they will see women win, and they will see women lose but pick themselves up and carry on regardless. And this display of female strength is potentially more important than seeing the game itself.
While watching the game I got a nostalgic pang in my chest for the times I played football as a 10 year old on the boys team in primary school, because there wasn’t a girls team. Even though the Women’s World Cup did exist back then, I had no idea. To me there were no visible female role models.
England’s forward Toni Duggan explains she too, “didn’t have role models to look up to because there was no access to them.” She strongly believes the England team “need to give time to promote the game and be role models – to make the next generation see us and want to become us.”
And we couldn’t agree more. That is why we go into schools to deliver our Role Model Relay events, so young girls across the North West can physically meet female role models and ask them all about their careers, their school times and life experience. These events raise the girls’ awareness to the variety of career opportunities they have, raise their aspirations and they get guidance on what they need to do to be successful in a certain field. We see them get excited about their future and see them light up when they have women to look up to.
So having the Women’s World Cup takeover our TVs and social media threads for the next few weeks is not just about football and the progress of women in sport, it is about the visibility of positive role models for girls and women everywhere. So if you have the power to be a positive inspiration to a girl or woman in your life then step up and be visible. If you can see it, you can become it.
If you work in education and want to find out more about hosting a Role Model Relay event in your school click here and if you are a role model and would like to join us in inspiring the next generation complete the volunteer registration form here.