Monthly Musing – July 2022 – Life-changing
“Did you watch the match?”
It’s going to be one of those questions that gets asked over and over – England vs German in the Women’s Euro Cup football final – but more than the delight of seeing the England team win and lift the cup, I think this match is something that’s going to change the world.
How often do we have something to show our girls that is truly about them and what they can achieve if they follow their dreams? How often do we get to see such unadulterated joy as the team celebrated with each other and the crowd? How often do we see so many girls of all ages in the crowd cheering on their football team, knowing that with hard work and determination it could be them on that pitch?
My husband is an avid football fan and there’s a lot of football watched in our house, but there has been something about the women’s matches that has felt very different. No choice between football and makeup or beautiful nails. No reservations about talking about how the players felt at the end of match. These matches have not been “women’s football”, girls playing at a boys’ game, this has been football played by women who have stamped their mark on the pitch and paved the way for future champions to follow them.
There are many occasions that we can describe as “life-changing” and we all experience them in both good and bad contexts (or both, thinking about the recently US billion dollar lottery winner – I’m not sure that win is a blessing!) but this match feels life-changing for so many people that everyone must surely be a winner. It may not feel that way at the moment for the German side, but if this match brings more girls to the game, both playing and watching, there will be opportunities that have never even been imagined for girls in the future.
The pride and the delight in being on the pitch for every match has been obvious and that alone is something that I will carry with me for a long time. If you’re going to do something, do it joyfully, do it with purpose and do it with passion.
As I’m writing this, it doesn’t feel like one of my usual Monthly Musings, but it feels important to document the event and the emotions of the night. Even in these days, we know that there are situations where women are still underpaid and undervalued, where it is difficult for them to break through in a male-dominated world, but there is finally progress on the football pitch. Our youngsters play in mixed teams both in school and out – and in case that doesn’t feel like anything special, it’s not that long ago that girls weren’t allowed to play football at school (“girls play netball, not football”) – they build skills and confidence and they are able to express themselves in a way that is equal to any boy. Anything that we can do to help our girls become the strong, independent women that they are destined to be is to be encouraged, I think, and watching the players on the pitch, it felt to me like another pathway had opened up.
Football has come home, and it’s brought a whole suitcase-full of opportunity. I hope we can make the most of it.