I have watched more football over the past few weeks than I have done since I was forced to as a child. I grew up in a football-loving household and, with the full Sky Sports package in my teens, my Brother would manage to find football to watch every day of the year. Whenever Aston Villa weren’t playing, there were other Premiership games, Championship games, the Euros, the World Cup, Brazilian beach football, if there was a ball being kicked around, we were watching it!
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the games, there were just things I would rather have been watching – like movies.
I would watch any movie, new, old, Hollywood, foreign language, I had a FilmFour subscription when the channel first launched and I guess making my family sit through a season of films produced in Hong Kong was just as entertaining for them as the football was for me!
My knowledge of football came in very useful when talking to boys and, for that, I was grateful to my football-loving family.
A few years ago, I confessed to my family that I really wasn’t bothered about football. This was liberating as a lifetime of supporting Aston Villa had given me more emotions than I could really handle! What with running my own business, being a somewhat creative soul, and with the state of the world as it stood circa 2016/2017 I frankly did not have the emotional bandwidth for football. I find it hard to be a casual spectator. I stopped paying attention to the football and all was well.
I’m especially fortunate in that Chris is not a big football fan either. Our house is a football-free zone.
Or, at least, it was until the Women’s World Cup.
We couldn’t believe it – women’s football was being shown on primetime BBC One telly on a Friday night. It was being televised with every reverence afforded to the men’s game. We watched an England game to lend our support to this as a thing. I have never understood how television ratings are compiled but I thought that somehow by watching the game and talking about it on social media, the powers that be would see that we were interested.
I could not be prouder of England’s national team, affectionately known as ‘the Lionesses.’ They played some really classy football and their behaviour on the pitch was exemplary. Though the team did not go on to win the World Cup – and I agree that they should wait until they do for their victory parade – they really are champions. Never before have I been able to name the female players on our national team, I have only ever been as aware of the women’s game as probably the majority of us. I knew we had a women’s team. That was about it.
Now I am having to talk Chris down from buying me an England shirt with WHITE on the back. Yes, we have adopted Ellen White as a member of our extended family!
We have not been fully converted into a football-loving household but we are already looking forward to the next Women’s World Cup in 4 years. I still have as little interest in watching the men’s game as before. Why is this? I have been asking myself this question.
Honestly, I still just don’t have the emotional bandwidth for it! I’m busy enough without having my mood dictated by whether or not my team win or lose. Aston Villa is in my blood whether I like it or not and I still blow a kiss to Villa Park when I drive past – you have my undying love but not my undivided attention, sorry.
Watching the Women’s World Cup, it was heartening to hear women’s voices chanting along with the England Supporters’ Band. I thought of all the little girls who have been shooed away from football because it was a game for boys. I am so grateful to the Lionesses for giving football to a new generation who will grow up seeing women playing on the BBC. Visibility matters.
I would love to bake a cake for the Lionesses, who I am sure could use a slice or two after all that hard work in the sweltering heat. You are superstars and amazing role models, onwards and upwards.
Special thanks of course are due to the BBC for putting the Women’s World Cup on our screens. Our non-football watching household devoured game after game and will continue to do so as long as you continue to support it – get a new commentator though… I don’t know who the gentleman was or why you chose him but a little bit of optimism would have been nice to hear, even in the face of insurmountable odds.
And an extra slice for England manager Phil Neville for beautifully continuing Gareth Southgate’s policy of dressing well on the sidelines.