In her exclusive column for GiveMeSport, England and Manchester City star Lucy Bronze looks forward to this year’s Women’s Football Weekend.
Although it will be disappointing not to be on the pitch during Women’s Football Weekend, it will be really cool to sit back and experience it as a spectator.
With men’s football on an international break, it’s a brilliant time to celebrate our game and get everybody to make a bit of noise about it. Women’s Football Weekend does exactly this. It brings in more fans and gets everybody watching.
Women’s football has been held back in the past, and it’s fantastic to have an initiative which helps propel it forward.
Why watch women’s football?
There are so many thrilling matches in women’s football these days. It’s not just about the top teams anymore – every side is worth watching.
This Women’s Super League season has shown that. There have been so many different results and score lines, and a lot of upsets already!
I think there’s so much talent around the country now, that women’s football is definitely worth a watch.
Fans of men’s football are not always particularly enthusiastic about the international break – they still want club football.
Well, there’s plenty of good club football going on if you watch women’s teams too. That’s what Women’s Football Weekend demonstrates.
Impact of the television deal
I think this year’s Women’s Football Weekend could be bigger than ever as a result of the new broadcast deal.
I watch all football, all the time, and I’m even seeing more of my own team and my own league on TV now. If I’m seeing this, then other people sitting at home watching Sky Sports are seeing it as well.
I was watching the Premier League match between Liverpool and West Ham last weekend, for example. When that finished, the WSL clash between Arsenal and West Ham came on.
In my opinion, a lot of people who didn’t know about that match would have ended up watching it, because it’s another two hours of football at the end of the day!
The visibility of women’s football is definitely what has improved the most since I’ve become a senior team player.
When I was a teenager, it just wasn’t possible to watch women’s football on TV. When I played for Sunderland, who were in what was called the Premier League back then, my Mum would have no idea what the score was unless I rang her.
She couldn’t find it on the internet and there definitely wouldn’t have been a match report.
Now, the visibility of women’s football has increased so much, thanks in part to the new TV deal. There’s a lot of improvement needed in other areas of the game, but that is what has been the most positive change since I started out.
So, I think that could make a huge difference this weekend. Maybe some of those people who are finding out about the WSL through Sky Sports will end up coming to a game.
Importance of grassroots
It’s easy to promote the top games. Manchester City’s clash against Chelsea is probably one of the easiest games in English women’s football to promote, to be honest.
Even though we’ve not had the best start to the season, it’s still a game that people are going to want to tune into and watch, regardless of what weekend it’s put on.
I like Women’s Football Weekend because it also focuses on grassroots football. Fifty-six FA Cup first round matches will be played across the weekend, and there’s the push to get people to attend these as well.
I think it’s really important that when we promote the top level of the game, we ensure that the levels below are getting the same amount of attention and support.
There’s no point in just a couple of teams getting the benefits of Women’s Football Weekend – you need everybody to grow and to get better. This helps the top teams improve as well.
It’s probably more important for the lower leagues to have this opportunity than the Man City vs Chelsea game, for example. So it’s great there’s a weekend to spread that attention and help boost other teams and leagues.