Oh, the state of women’s football

I love football. I love the build up to a match, the stress during it and the feeling you have after 90 minutes of chasing a ball around a patch of grass. I love watching it and telling supporters of other teams that Arsenal will win the league, with conviction, despite it currently not being possible. I love coaching little ones and seeing their reaction when they master a new skill. I could talk probably forever about it. I would almost go as far as to say I love everything about football, but then I’d be lying.

Something I don’t love about football is how undervalued, unappreciated and underexposed female football is in the UK. My two biggest frustrations are the cost it is to play and the lack of exposure of some really talented female footballers.

Everything these days costs something. For grassroots football its a couple pounds a week to cover referee fees, the pitch and league costs. I get that. For professional women’s football the costs are really high. A friend of mine plays for Tottenham Ladies and had to pay £50 pre-season and £20 every month for during the season, and that is for kit alone. If she leaves at all during the season, the kit must be returned. In addition to this she pays all costs to get to matches, many of which are outside of London and match fees. Could you imagine this in the men’s Premier League? Hi, Mr. Walcott, welcome to the sqaud. Now give me £1000 to cover your fees for this season.

Sponsorship and quite high salaries are part of what stops this from happening in the men’s league. Also, high demand to see a match live fuels high ticket prices (between £52-£300) also generates a healthy income. Why is not be the same for women?

There is not really a professional league for woman in the UK. Just last month the FA announced the inaugural Super League for women in the UK. This is a huge deal. It means that for the first time, at least a few players for teams like Arsenal will actually receive a wage to play, and not have to supplement their income, allowing them to fully focus on their game. While I think its amazing that in 2011 I’ll be able to watch women play as professionals in a Super league, it should have happened years ago, before many English female footballers took off to America where their game is taken much more seriously.

The lack of profile of woman’s football also affects things on the smallest of levels, in grassroots women and girl’s football  from getting supporters out to matches, to having a pitch to play on that isn’t overtaken by boys and men half way through the session. Maybe it has something to do with some of the role models in men’s football (Andrey Arshavin, case in point) denouncing the quality of play in the women’s game.

In a few weeks time, I’ll be paying £1.50 to go and see Arsenal Ladies play at Emirates Stadium. You should really come, least not because its about the same price for a ticket as a cup of coffee but really because they deserve the support.

(Image courtesy of Arsenal.com)

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