An insight into women’s football with NUFC ladies
NEWCASTLE UNITED WOMEN’S FOOTBALL CLUB
I went to Newcastle United Women’s Football Club to explore how women’s football was progressing, particularly in terms of participation levels and how far women’s football can go. I used Newcastle United as an example and explored case studies and examples from other football clubs as well as campaigns that look at growing the participation levels in women’s football as well as growing the general interest in women’s football.
Women’s football is in great need of support, both in terms of facilities and funding. Ultimately, the rise of the sport hopes to eventually force new facilities from funding due to an increased awareness of the game.
Newcastle United Women’s football has improved in recent years due to the improvement of facilities in association with Northumbria University. But the main talking point is the fact that women’s football is still nowhere near as popular as the men’s game.
NUWFC player Amy Perch said that despite the support the club receives, funding is still an essential part of women’s football. Despite having high standard facilities particularly related to the youngsters at the club. Whilst it is clear that women’s football is likely to never have the same following as the men’s game, there still could be a lot done to help women’s football.
25-year-old Perch believes the club needs much more funding in order to progress and for the sport itself to progress further and help participation levels. “The FA have been a little bit hesitant in getting involved with women’s football. It hasn’t got the same following as men’s football” said Perch.
“Get more funding in, get it televised, get it on the radio so that people are more aware of it; it would definitely help it to progress and with the Super League being set up, that’s definitely helped because it’s being televised.”
There is no doubt that women’s football has improved in terms of its popularity and the levels of participation, but it is still left in the dark to some extent; with no television coverage of English Super League games, it is difficult for participation figures and interest to rise as it is being exposed to the general public or girls that may want to participate in the game.
The last women’s World Cup showed a remarkable rise in the popularity of the women’s game, as mentioned by Neaimeh. Hosted in Germany in 2011, each venue had an average attendance of over 26,000 and the matches were televised.
During the time, women’s football became a talked about game that interested the general public, but once the tournament was over, the potential viewers are likely to have remained watching the men’s game that they are likely to prefer.
Yet, with the investment put into the game from showing the game on television and having the game set on a large stage in Germany, it proves that women’s football has the potential to become a hit with the general public and therefore will in turn, raise levels of participation.
Former England Women manager has a strong opinion on hows to improve participation in women’s football, Powell is a leading figurehead in women’s football and managed the England team from 1998 to 2013: “You need the right facilities and they need to be accessible to the wider community,” Powell told BBC Wales.
And despite funding being needed in some areas, Powell believes that is not necessarily true: “Football is relatively cheap. All you need is a ball and a couple of jumpers to practise. “I think any sport needs to be accessible, affordable and practised within the confines of a safe environment.
“Have we got enough playing fields? Have we got enough tennis courts? The debate always comes up. We have major sporting events such as Wimbledon. We don’t have success and suddenly it’s spoken about.The momentum gets lost and suddenly it’s forgotten. I think we need to be a bit more proactive. Let’s not just talk about it, let’s make the facilities more accessible to kids and make them want to come along.”
“To increase participation rates we need successful national teams and a strong domestic league. We have to have a product that is worth selling. What sells newspapers? What are the public
interested in seeing on TV.”
“They want to see a good competition. It’s the responsibility of everybody that’s involved in the game, at whatever level, to make the product good so that we get more media coverage.”
Arsenal Ladies have been the dominant force in women’s football. Founded in 1987, Arsenal Ladies are the most successful club in English women’s football. The club have won 40 major trophies: 2 FA Women’s Super League titles
12 FA Women’s Premier League titles
12 FA Women’s Cups
10 Women’s Premier League Cups
FA Women’s Super League Continental cups
1 UEFA Women’s Champions League
The Arsenal Ladies team have been by far the greatest team in the history of English football. Their records speak for themselves, however a lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to ensure their success.
Whilst working with NUWFC, it appears that Newcastle are looking at Arsenal as an example of how to be successful. During the mid 2000’s, Thierry Henry invested his own money into the Ladies team and also invited the players along to train at the Arsenal men’s training ground.Though the ladies still trained separately from the men, they trained in the vicinity of the men and were able to pick up tips from the famous Arsenal side known as ‘The Invincibles’.
NUWFC occasionally will be invited to train with the first team and will sometimes travel on the team bus with the senior men’s squad.
All of these facts echo the fact that women’s football is crying out for sponsorship to raise the funds it requires. In a nutshell, women’s football is waiting to thrive, but it will only do so when it has the required funding and support but it is clear that women’s football is more than ready to stake it’s claim in becoming the new phenomenon that football fans could soon be watching.