Action Replay: Women’s Football Team Earn Roar of Approval

England’s women’s football team, dubbed ‘Lionesses’ by the popular press, earned third place in the Women’s World Cup in Canada by overcoming Germany 1-0 with a penalty kick by Fara Williams in the 108th minute. The World Cup winners America defeated Japan in a 5-2 romp.

As the tournament progressed the team became better known with each performance as did the individual players. England’s first goal was scored by Fran Kirby who stopped playing football at 17 – she suffered depression after her mother’s death. Playing park football rekindled her love for the game. Karen Carney has also experienced depression and once had to be pulled from a car to attend training by Laura Basset the current centre half, then a team mate at Birmingham City.

Veteran midfielder Fara Williams became homeless as a teenager after being estranged from her family. She has spent years playing for England while living in hostels and on the streets. Extrovert striker Lianne Sanderson and former captain Casey Stoney (MBE) are two players who are role models in the gay community. Casey recently had twins with her partner Meg Harris.

The quality of the England team’s football has been mixed. But there has been very little diving, barely any dissent and no rolling around in fake agony which is commonplace in the men’s game – when Bassett was elbowed in the eye by a French player, she simply got up and played on.

Admiration for England’s male footballers is qualified by resentment of occasional boorish behaviour and massive wages. The women however are well behaved but relatively poorly paid. If they had won this competition their bonus would have been £35k each. Had the men won in Brazil last year they would have received £350k

Most female England players do reasonably well, considering they are subsidised by the men’s football.  They have a central contract with the English Football Association worth £20- £25k, plus club contracts that can reach £40,000. 

It appears that the shared experiences and the obvious empathy of England’s ‘Lionesses’ create a sense of wellbeing in the team squad. In contrast the macho approach in male football – not talking about their problems and seeking resolution in alcohol is a poor substitute for the openness in women’s football.


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