It truly is fantastic, for so many reasons, that the England Women’s football team are through to the semi-finals of the World Cup.
Whatever happens against Japan, the reigning champions, tomorrow, they have done themselves and the nation proud.
It is the first time an England side have reached the last four of a World Cup in 25 years and it is refreshing to see the whole country getting behind them. We saw that with the men when they got into the semi-finals of Italia ‘90.
This achievement will raise the profile of the sport and is a shot in the arm to women’s sport in this country. Hopefully their success will lead to them given even more TV exposure in the future.
Their run in the tournament could also have a really positive knock on effect for future generations. Over the years, I travelled many times to the US. Soccer is one of their biggest sports in terms of participation and it would be great to see something similar happen in England.
I didn’t see the women’s last match versus Canada, the hosts, because it was on late and when you’ve got a young daughter it’s hard stay up and watch it all but I have seen a couple of there matches. They have played some good football and the attitude of the players has been superb. Some of their skills level has been absolutely tremendous. Even in the group stages, it has been a very exciting tournament to watch. I remember watching it four years ago, but the standard has improved so much in the last few years.
I have been really impressed with Mark Sampson, the England women’s manager, willingness to change tactics and rotate his line-up according to the opposition. You’ve got to win seven matches to win a World Cup so you can’t play the same line-up in every match.
I think quite often in the men’s game that we will go into a tournament, might only play four to five games, but play the same eleven all the time. There are five or six players who are sat on the bench and don’t get any action.
The coach has used different substitutes and different formations. He freshens things up and they are reaping the benefits so far. The team is full of energy. They have had some sticky spells in the matches I have seen but that’s part of tournament football. Nobody said it was going to be easy winning a World Cup!