Women’s football: Not just a man’s game

The Ladies have silenced their critics with some impressive performances

Ryan Kyle

Picture the scene. Scotland’s top football club, be it Celtic or Rangers, reaches the last-16 of the UEFA Champions League. Every newspaper and TV station is saturated with coverage of the ‘heroes’ behind such an achievment and supporters fly flags and gather in pubs to watch on big screens.

Now cast your mind back to the last time you picked up a newspaper and read even a brief mention of the massive success of Glasgow City Ladies, Scotland’s top women’s football team. You, and the vast majority of Scots, will probably be completely unaware that last season they were just 180 minutes from the Quarter Finals of the Women’s UEFA Champions League.

Aside from one or two pages every now and again, the majority of women’s football is completely under the radar. When Celtic last played in the top European competition, they averaged a home attendance of 57,000 people. Compare that with Glasgow City, who managed to draw a crowd of 300 in what is ultimately the same competition. That’s 192 times less people, a figure that, on paper, is utterly unjustifiable.

There is a stereotype of women’s football in Scotland, and five minutes looking through football forums will demonstrate that. On Pie & Bovril, a website dedicated to Scottish football, a thread was posted to congratulate Glasgow City. This was bombarded with comments, which bordered on sexist and were likely to cause offence to a group of girls who are only doing what they enjoy.

Obviously there are differences in the way football is played between men and women – there is no denying that – but is the lack of physicality and perceived lower standard enough to justify a complete disregard by the mainstream media? In addition to that, what can be done to change ignorant impressions of the women’s game and how can it progress?]

I spoke to Laura Montgomery, club manager of Glasgow City Ladies, to ask just what steps can be taken to improve awareness.

She said: “The government, schools and local authorities are really missing out on not utilising the success of the women’s clubs and national team. If they can make kids see that they can be fit, healthy and have good body image, all the things that are relevent to young girls, then I think more will want to take up our sport.

“Stereotypes are slowly changing. I don’t know what people think women’s football is all about, but certainly if you watched our documentary you would see that it’s just talented, normal people that play the sport they love.

Women’s football is one of the fastest growing sports in the country

“People may say that it’s a man’s game, but that is an extremely old-fashioned opinion that doesn’t have a place in society anymore. That’s really gender issues rather than sporting issues. The only problem for women’s sport is not knowing it’s there and not knowing how to get involved in it.

“At Glasgow City, we have teams at most levels but girls don’t really know about it and that’s the issue. At schools, you’ll probably start with the same amount of girls as boys playing football, and then over the weeks it’ll get less as they find they’re not as good as everyone else. Maybe if there was more girls-only football sessions then more would feel inclined to remain in the game.

“Our country needs a cultural shift. That goes from the media to parents. For example, if you’re a little boy, your parents will probably buy you a ball, whereas if you’re a little girl, it’ll most likely be a doll. Is it any wonder then that when girls at six or seven are thrown a football for the first time, they don’t know how to catch it? The little boy has been doing it for six years, so he knows how to catch it.

“Girls are treated differently from boys, so arguably they aren’t given the same opportunity as the average boy does.”

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Comments

  1. Pedro MacFarlane says:

    Of course it’s true that the female football game will be different to the men’s game but it should still have it’s place. We don’t ridicule the women at Wimbledon when they cannae hit a serve as fast as Nadal do we!?! Naw! And still as good to watch Venus and Serena as it is Andy Murray! Albeit a different style of play.
    Give the women’s game the respect it deserves, get girl’s football as part of the sports curriculum at school and do it like the Americans do, they’re breeding world champions.

  2. I agree with all above though girls football has grown and there are more opportunities for girls. There is a long way to go and much more could be done. Girl and womans football don’t get the recognition that it deserves. My daughter has been kicking a ball from the day she could walk and has played soccer 7s from the age of 5 she played in a boys team and was the only girl in the team she had to play harder and train harder to warrant her place. When playing other boys teams that her team beat the fathers would say that wee boy in the no 4 is a great player, I used enjoy seeing the shock in their face when I informed them that she was in fact a girl. Then It would dissappnt me to hear them have a go at their sons at getting beat by a girl. The shock on mens faces started to annoy me why shouldnt a girl be as good if not better than the boys at the game why not!!! My daughter is 12this year and is still playing she loves the game I hope that it gets better for her and all those other girls playing and that they are recognised and respected for the talent and skill they have and hopefully one day we will see their results on ssn.

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