Women's World Cup 2019
It was no surprise to see the USA crowned champions once again, but some things we didn’t see coming - the effect this tournament had on the viewing public at home.
In 2017, the Women’s Euros Semi-Final brought in a record audience for Women’s Football of 4 million - in just 2 years this has nearly tripled to a peak of 11.7 million (+ another 1.5m online) tuning in for England’s Semi-Final. Officially the UK’s biggest audience of the year - bigger than Strictly, BGT & Line of Duty. It’s hard to see how that figure will be beaten in 2019 and is testament to the new reach of the Women’s game, gaining interest from those who would never have dreamt of watching Women’s Football before.
On the field pre-conceived attitudes are being swept away - heroic performances from Chile’s Endler & the Netherland’s Van Veenendaal have put to bed the tired argument that all female goalkeepers are useless. There are still improvements to be made on the field, both defensively and creatively, but this is a massive step forward and one that our countries will see the benefit from in the next 10-15 years rather than now. Young girls who haven’t considered football as an option will now push on and train hard to be the next heroines for their country resulting in players that are Steph Houghton to the power of 5. These things take time, but World Cup 2019 has been a massive force for good in moving on the Women’s game in this country.
Many thanks to Input Media and BBC Sport for asking me to direct their coverage, working alongside a group of extremely talented people. Here’s to 2021 and the Women’s European Championships in England.