Cushing wants ‘to grow’ Man City Women
Manchester City Women’s manager Nick Cushing may have won the club’s first Women’s Super League 1 title but his determination is entertaining thousands more spectators.
Women’s football may be seen as a growing sport along the likes of futsal but it remains to challenge the increase of the regular attendance figures.
On Sunday, over 4,000 turned up to witness Chelsea Ladies lose their crown to an undefeated Man City at the Academy Stadium, down the road from the Etihad.
The atmosphere was electric full of excitement knowing city were just 90 minutes away from Super League success. All they had to do was avoid defeat.
For someone who has been to see women’s football at the Academy ground on numerous occasions, there had only been one stand ever open for the attendees with a peek of a thousand. But in this current great rivalry of City and Chelsea, the opposite stand was open and just as crowded as the one I was sitting in.
During the game, I even overheard a nearby spectator asking his partner ‘this is surely the busiest we have seen it?’.
Drums, horns and the modern fan item of clappers were making the noises heard along with the traditional chanting and the bantering.
The fans were of course treated to a fairy tale ending as City completed their league mission by defeating Chelsea, 2-0.
Before the match, Nick Cushing chose football over the chances of his child being born on the same day: “My wife is due with our third, she is actually due on Monday so if she goes over then there will be an actual dilemma.
“Do I go to the hospital? Or do I go to the game? It’s a big game though isn’t it. If I could get to the hospital in time, then I would go but this is a big game.”
So Cushing managed the game despite the high possibility. The manager even stayed put after the final whistle to share his proudness of his team’s success.
Cushing said after the title win: “It feels really good because I’m a realest and I’ve been trying to grow this and to not get carried away and we’ve tried to not think we could win it in the first year and think we could win it last year, we wanted to win it last year and we pushed Chelsea all the way, but this year we had a real desire.”
There was plenty of media covering the historic fixture including BT Sport, who broadcast the match live, it could have arguably surprised Cushing himself with the attention.
The City boss stated his goals: “The target is to grow a football team and ultimately one that people want to watch. If we can get 4,000 people plus in here to watch us in every WSL game, then we have done something right. One title is good; it doesn’t mean that we have achieved it.
“We can’t hide away from the fact that within our game there is a perception outside of the women’s game, we want to challenge that perception. I’ve said it from day one, if you challenge the perception that people have of you as players and us as a game we have the opportunity to do something where people will want to come and watch.
As well as losing valuable points in a league match or being kicked out of a precious cup competition, a bad reputation can scare fans away from the action in any format both men and women’s football.
It’s one mind Cushing has when his team does not perform on match day.
He added: “I’m proud of the performance because there is one thing that happened to us in year one. We played Bristol (Academy) at home in our second league fixture and the club got in the athletics stadium.
“The club got two and a half thousand people in and the performance was abysmal and the one thing I said to the players is ‘people won’t come back and watch. You are reinforcing the perception of what people think of yourself. You have to play a style of football and a tempo and something exciting to watch.’
“You know what, I think those 4,000 people might come back and they might bring somebody and ultimately within three or four years we might have a stadium full of people that love watching Manchester City Women and that’s the target.”
Man coaches in women’s football like England’s manager, Mark Sampson, have proved to be great ambassadors to help grow female football in England.
They think about the fans just as much as they think about their team they work for many months of the year.
I’m a 21-year-old University student who is an aspired sport commentator and writer. When I’m not studying, I have the privilege to shout GOAL behind a microphone while witnessing 22 players kick a ball around a field.