26 Jun 2015

England’s women must win – or remain in the men’s shadow

Sports reporter

As the Lionesses progress through the World Cup, the time for the women’s game to shine is now – especially as the mens international game is on the floor.

England women's football team (Getty)

England take on hosts Canada on Saturday in the quarter-finals, with the chance to reach the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup for the first time, writes Jordan Jarrett-Bryan

It’s an opportunity not only to make history but also to stamp women’s football on to the consciousness of the British public.

It’s hard to know if this is the moment women’s football makes a significant sea change and gains the interest of the masses. But what is clear is that the team may never have a better chance to make an impression on the nation.

The under-21 men’s team needed a draw to reach the semi-final of the European Championships this week. They lost and finished bottom of their group. Meanwhile, the senior team are boring the nation to bits with their casual passage to next year’s Euros.

Now is the time for England’s women to get the country onside.

Hope and excitement is severely lacking with England’s national team, but while many women will say they don’t want their success aligned with the men’s failure, the fact is there that is an open goal to be exploited – and generation of football fans to be gained – as the momentum grows.

Like their male counterparts, the women’s team have individuals with talent the rest of the world would envy. But unlike the men, the women appear to have found a way of playing as a team that gets the best of our all the individuals and involves all members of the squad.

It’s such a nice thing to have all 23 people together and behind each other. Fara Williams

”It’s such a nice thing to have all 23 people together and behind each other. It’s great to know you’ve got all that support. It just shows what good shape we’re in. The spirit is fantastic,” says Fara Williams, England’s most experienced player.

Crowds and attendances have been generally impressive, with TV coverage at an unprecedented level. As many as 50,000 fans are expected to attend the match at Vancouver’s BC Place stadium, but that’s more a reflection on how seriously the women’s game is taken abroad.

England are hoping to be bad tourists, spoiling the party and leaving with the spoils. This is why it’s so important England win on Saturday – because a win on Saturday isn’t just a win for the women’s team but also for English football.

The men don’t seem to want to show the world (or even Europe) how good they are, so the stage is set for the women to do so. The time is now.