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Women Are Reflecting On The Access To Football They Had Growing Up: 'It Wasn't An Option'

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Chloe Kelly and Ella Toone celebrate during the UEFA Women's Euro England 2022 final match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium.Chloe Kelly and Ella Toone celebrate during the UEFA Women's Euro England 2022 final match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium.

As the crowd roared in celebration of the Lionesses’ 2-1 victory against Germany, even the steeliest of football pundits couldn’t hold back their tears.

It was a momentous occasion for English football, but particularly for women’s football, which up until now has been severely underfunded and – let’s face it – discriminated against, purely based on the fact it’s women kicking a ball about and not men.

Just 63% of schools currently offer girls’ football in PE lessons, according to the FA, and only one third of girls aged 5-18 participate in football every week.

But change is (hopefully) now very much on the horizon. England’s Euros win is being hailed as a defining moment, with footballers past and present calling for more academies, greater funding and better access for fans so they can actually turn up and watch their teams in action.

The interest is there: almost 90,000 fans turned up to watch the Lionesses bring it home at Wembley, with roughly 20 million more tuning in from home. 

As the Lionesses celebrate their victory on the pitch, women have been reflecting on the access they had to football growing up – and if this doesn’t show why change needs to happen now, we don’t know what will.

So many women were forced to stop playing football because they were told they couldn’t compete against the boys. 

Lack of girls’ teams in schools meant football became incredibly hard – if not impossible – to pursue.

Girls have been bullied, body-shamed and even faced violence for trying to compete.

Lack of access meant others were forced to play in public spaces – and leered at in the process.

But the future looks bright for women’s football and for little girls everywhere who want to be the next Chloe Kelly. 

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