IInterest in women’s football skyrocketed during the UEFA Euro 2022 tournament and viewership was consistently high. England’s semi-final against Sweden was one of the most watched TV broadcasts of the year, reaching a peak audience of 9.3 million viewers on BBC One.
Five fans talk about what drew them to this year’s tournament and their favorite moments from matches.
“I looked at my daughter’s face and she was so excited”
Last week I went to Brighton for the quarter-finals between England and Spain with a friend and our 12 year old daughters. We arrived about 15 minutes before the start and the atmosphere was incredible. This continued throughout the match, even after Spain took the lead.
The highlight for me was Georgia Stanway scoring the winning goal and the crowd stood up unanimously in appreciation. I remember looking at my daughter’s face and she was so excited. It was like the ball was destined for the back of the net and the crowd just exploded. It was wonderful.
My daughter loves to play, so on weekends we spend a lot of time together playing with her. The match we attended gave her an increased interest in the game. Coming out of the ground, we talked about the transition to WSL [Women’s Super League] games together next season.
I’ve been a Leicester City fan all my life and love to watch football, but I wouldn’t like to take my family to see it often because of the crowds at the men’s games. So this increased focus on women’s football is fantastic for me and my family.
Rob Crowther, 55, headmaster. Surrey
My favorite moment was when the players approached the corner after the goal. They were so close to us and it was like we were celebrating with them. It was great to see such good players and it makes me try to be as good as them.
Rob’s daughter Mia
“As a teenager, I was obsessed with football, but I was not allowed to play”
I was very impressed with the level of women’s football. Super skills, fitness, tactics and passing. I really enjoyed watching football without the hype and aggression of the Premier League. It’s so refreshing and joyful, nice to look at.
As a teenager, I was obsessed with football – it was my obsession. But I was in high school in the late 1960s and early 1970s and you just couldn’t do it. I remember trying to put together a girls’ football team in eighth grade to play at lunchtime. There were a few people who were interested and we were called to the assistant principal who said girls can’t play football at this school, so forget about it.
It was all pretty interesting when women’s football started to take off and it’s really taking off now and I really hope it stays that way. I think it will generate enthusiasm and also serve as an example to follow. I hope that many more girls will take to the field and have fun.
Katherine Streatfield, 67, North Yorkshire, retired.
“My guys rejoiced at every goal”
The joy of these euros was to watch games with my three sons – my twins are eight and the oldest is 12 – and their friends. They loved every game against England, and especially the 8-0 game against Norway. My three guys just applauded every goal, went crazy about it and said: we don’t care if men or women play football, we only care that this is football, this is England, and we just want to win.
This is a generation for which same-sex marriage is normal, women playing football is normal. It’s very emotional for me to watch these things, and they don’t understand it. And that’s okay – they can just enjoy it, that’s the point. When I was at school, the teacher laughed at me because I wanted to play football with the boys.
As a mother of sons, I almost feel that watching Euros with them is more important than if I had a daughter. It is just as important for men to play women’s football as it is for women.
Sonya Dunn, West Sussex, 42, housewife
“I’m very proud of England”
I was very inspired by the Euro and interestingly it gave me a lot of pride for England – for the team and for the country. Although I was born in Birmingham, my family is from Ireland and I never consider myself English. I have nothing in common with what I like except Wallace and Gromit. But seeing the grace and success of the Lionesses, something has changed.
Until this year, I had never seen an international game in person. I was in Sheffield to see the Netherlands against Sweden and Lee on the Netherlands against Portugal, Sweden against Portugal. I don’t know how things are in the big matches, but they were so well organised. There were so many stewards around and you just felt like you were in a really supportive environment.
Another thing I’ve noticed this year is the comments. Now this is more in line with the male comment. He seems more serious and focused.
The best moment so far was probably watching Beth Meade score her hat-trick against Norway. It’s incredible how England played. It was magical how gracefully they scored those goals. And to get this result 8-0. I watched in a pub in Sheffield and just laughed. I could not believe it.
Unfortunately I had a chest infection last week but if I get better I would like to see the finale in the fan zone in central Manchester or one of the pubs. If not, then I’m quite happy at home. I have a poster on my windshield and a small Euro flag. So it could be me and the cat, Frank. It will be amazing.
Mary Collins, 54, Manchester