Greetings from paradise:

 

I write from my former bedroom, now guest bedroom in my parents house in the frozen artic of northern Missouri. I’ve come to finally understand that it is nights like these, at such a early stage in life that you remember. I sit here, 23 years of age, writing an article on a growing sport throughout the world. Why? Because like myself leaving this house, getting married, and in terms ‘growing up’, thus to is the story with women’s soccer. My growth through the years as a person is nothing more than a ripple effect. Gower (hometown) had a soccer program, I chose to play instead of the weird game of football, I played for years because I had fun, I made soccer friends in college, my best friend plays soccer, I coached soccer, hopefully more later, and now I’m sitting here typing a weekly article about the game and how it continues to evolve.

 

Ripple Effect

 

Mad props to the folks over at @AusWomensGame for digging up some files and placing them on Twitter. Those folks have been tracking down the history of women’s soccer in Australia. However, through their own paperwork they’ve discovered some fascinating stories about women’s soccer back in the day, like back in the beginning of Piteå IF’s life; the late 1910’s and early 1920’s. Yes, while the United States was busy fighting about what rights women should have, the ladies across the pond were already kicking it around, and drawing some MASSIVE crowds. In fact, a women’s team in 1917 in London, England, yes England of all places, brought in a crowd of 53,000 people, and turned away somewhere between 10-15,000 other people.A North America MLS game doesn’t even bring in that kind of draw in 2010 (and probably in 2011). It is worth noting that these games were created primarily from women working in the munition plants during World War I, bringing in funds to help the war efforts, most notably at home.

The FA picked up on this and created a documentation stating that as of 1921 all women’s games would not be allowed to play on any FA regulated fields.

“…the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged…”

-FA-

Source: The Guardian

Thus came the end of the women’s game until sanctions were lifted in 1969 in England.

Thanks to BBC for some enticing articles over such information, with these stories it is definitely worth discussing. 53,000 is a huge number, a number that is rarely seen within the realms of American soccer, American men’s soccer. So there are a few points worth noting about these findings:

  • American men’s soccer tends not to match the crowd size of those women’s games in 1917
  • The FA obviously was not pleased with the fact that a women’s league was doing so well, especially with the fact that they were easily obtaining 20,000 more fans then the men’s teams that were playing, once again, in England
  • Women’s soccer can be successful

After the sanctions were lifted in the late 60’s the women’s league in England struggled for many years. They tried to work with Wales and Northern Ireland, only to be shot down by the FA, saying that didn’t have permission to work with those areas of Great Britain.

Come 1971 and UEFA voted, only Scotland voted no, that women’s soccer was a body of athletes that needed to be recognized, and the WFA was created. In 1972, England had it’s first national team, and with it, its first victory…against Scotland 3-2, 100 years after the first men’s national game, also against Scotland.

Today, soccer is the number one sport in England amongst girls, with over 100,000 registered.

Most of this information, and plenty more is located over at BBC from an article written by Patricia Gregory, one of the orginial founders of the Women’s FA.

I’m not one who is big on the history of soccer in England, yes I realize that mixing soccer and England in the same sentence is indeed a sin, but this history marks the common theme of women’s soccer from the lower leagues, up to the WPS, WLeauge, Damallsvenskan, and The FA WSL:

The game cannot and will not go away. These folks are playing for keeps. As writers, readers, and just general fans, we can turn on the tv; turn on ESPN and more then likely all we’re going to hear about in the women’s side of athletics is Cristiano Ronaldo’s girlfriend showing her smile off on the front page of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition (yes, I’m going to be riding this wave for a while). At this point I’m starting to come to the conclusion that women’s soccer at the global level is quickly becoming to the underground, next X-Games of the sports world. I always said that there is a niche for women’s soccer in the world, but two things, alongside with the motivating story of women’s soccer in England, have further motivated myself.

 

80,000 and counting…

 

While 53,000 people in one area to watch a women’s game take place in 1917 is an amazing sight that many of us can’t begin to imagine, for some souls coming up in June, this will be the life that they will be part of.

FIFA announced this week that the fourth phase of World Cup tickets sales was completed with an astonishing 80,000 tickets purchase. Naturally, tickets to watch World Cup favorites Germany, were incredibly popular. At this point a total of 510,000 tickets have been sold for the ’11 World Cup, making this one of the most successful WWC yet. Between the outstanding ticket sales and the increased ESPN covereage fo the ’11 World Cup, making it reflective of the coverage of the men’s ’10 tournament, the spotlight is now on these women more than ever. With the advancement of technology hitting its global stride, more countries, more offices, and more tv’s will be able to see this game. Perhaps people are going to start to realize that those folks from the ’20’s were on to something…

…skill is worth something.

Spotlights on you ladies, ‘wow’ us all.

Note: For those number crunchers out there; at the moment the ’99 FIFA USA World Cup holds the record with a crazy figure of over 660,000 people. Including just over 90,000 for the final USA/China matchup…at least we used to think it was a crazy record.

 

Speaking of ladies, spotlights, and something that makes you go ‘wow’…

 

It wasn’t long ago that I came out firing at FIFA for their choice of the ’22 World Cup, sending it to the country smaller than New York City; Qatar. Since then, Qatar has been done well placing their words where their crazy amount of money is. Part of Qatar’s ’22 FIFA Men’s World Cup bid included creating a women’s league inside its country. Understand that in Qatar, like many other Middle East countries, there are cultural difference’s compared to the conditions of the ‘western world’. However, regardless of things deemed different, it was quickly announced in the past week over at Our Game Magazine that Qatar has indeed followed through with their word and has created a women’s league through the QFA (Qatar Football Association), the league, named Qatar Women’s Football Championship, has eight teams inside of it (yes, more than the WPS in the US can offer at the moment). While this is all very early, this information is vital in showing that Qatar means business about the World Cup, but more importantly that the world is stretching out towards looking at both sides of the ball; the men’s and women’s.

 

Three small stories, or maybe two short stories with an extended history lesson attached to the front; but regardless of how you read the reading set before to…read, understand this. The game is here, the game is now, and the game is forever.

 

Extra Minutes:

 

91st Minute: Are you as curious as I am about the quietness of the Atlanta Beat? About why they tended to give up players all over the map? About what they’re going to do about their goal keeper situation? The always factual and information Equalizer Soccer has your answer. Beat fans; get familiar with some unfamiliar faces.

92nd Minute: Has anyone else noticed the young guns popping up with the USA Women’s National Team? Earlier in the season, three of the new comers to the national team and the WPS all have at least one start; A-Mor (Alex Morgan), Sydney Leroux, and Meghan Klingenberg. You can read about their adventures over at US Soccer, find out what it’s like to be the new kid on the block…or field.

93rd Minute: The Canadian news of the week was the fact that CanWNT has indeed backed off their boycott and will play in the Cyprus Cup. Money is still the hot legal battle between CSA and the players, but for now a victory has been found with the CSA making attempts to get back on the same page as Head Coach Carolina Morace.

94th Minute: While the Maple Leaf’s are off the Cyprus, (I have a friend who is a bartender in Cyprus, wonder if she’ll see them) the Yank’s are currently in Portugal gearing up for the Algarve Cup. It’ll be the 16th AC for the USWNT. The US will be in Group A alongside Japan, Norway, and Finland. Norway, Sweden, and Iceland could all pose a slight threat towards the US, with China being the dark horse for the tournament. This’ll be the last tournament before the Yank’s gear up for the 2011 World Cup in Germany.

95th Minute: Economic news: Bookstore in the United States named ‘Borders’ is closing 200 of its stores nationwise. I just happened to be in the neighborhood of one of those closing stores today; picked up six books (three for my wife, three for me) and two of them focusing on the beautiful game; Soccernomics and Outcasts United. I’m already getting a list of people wanting to read Outcasts United, so I’ll be starting that soon. Look for a review in the upcoming days.

 

Final Thoughts

 

Sometimes it can seem rather repetitive of the same old sing-song thought, “The Game Is Going To Grow”, and many days it can even seem hard to believe. After this week, I know this much: Women’s soccer has been around for over 100 years now, it has been put on trial, it has seen high points, it has seen low points, but this much is truth; each spring a group of girls get together in my small hometown of 1000 peopel and play other girls from other towns of 1000 people. It’s not fancy, it’s not classy, but it’s dirty and fun; it’s soccer, and it was here when I got here, it was here when I was here, and it’ll be here when I’m gone.

 

-D-

 

P.S. Curious about what else I spend my time reading? Twilight? Hunger Games? Halo? Anything else actually soccer related? Check it out over at Twitter @CoachDaugherty   

4 Comments
  1. gromit 9 years ago

    @ Lars :As long as it is not La Poule… I hope you know what “la poule” means in French slang 😉

    La Pie-bleue would perfectly suit to Camille Abily who is a non-stop talkative girl ! And a lovely girl, I have to add in order to avoid any misunderstanding.

  2. Women's Soccer United 11 years ago

    Image source: Dick Kerr’s Ladies, bbc.co.uk

    It is hard to believe that this ladies football team managed to draw crowds of up to 53,000 people in England! I hope that is something that we can achieve again, it is a great inspirational story.

  3. Women's Soccer United 11 years ago

    Image source: Dick Kerr’s Ladies, bbc.co.uk

    It is hard to believe that this ladies football team managed to draw crowds of up to 53,000 people in England! I hope that is something that we can achieve again, it is a great inspirational story.

  4. Women's Soccer United 11 years ago

    Image source: Dick Kerr’s Ladies, bbc.co.uk

    It is hard to believe that this ladies football team managed to draw crowds of up to 53,000 people in England! I hope that is something that we can achieve again, it is a great inspirational story.

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