There’s a view about women’s football. It might be changing though. I’ve subscribed to this view. But sitting with a glass of wine after work on a Friday watching the opening game of the women’s world cup football (France the hosts against Korea), I really do need to think about why I had that view. Why men’s football has always felt more…well more like football…and what it is that makes us (or maybe it’s just me) think like that.
I have always watched football to some extent but wouldn’t say I’m an avid fan. I went to the Hearts games (Edinburgh team) when I was young and even had a season ticket. Scottish football however is something you really need to be dedicated to. Having lost interest over the years I picked up the bug of travelling with the Tartan Army of Scotland supporters. Feeling like a bit of an intruder given I have never had that proper ‘love’ of football, I went for the social aspect of the travel. There isn’t anything like it. The laughs, the camaraderie, the celebrations despite constant defeat, the sense of belonging and pride in your country. I literally had some of the best adventures to places I would never normally travel to. But am I any different to the men? Sure, I didn’t take my interest in it to the level of fan expertise, but all the other things I loved about it were the same thing everyone loved and still do about supporting football.
So here it is. My view about football and why men like it. And why women’s football seems a bit, well, alien. It may not be right but I think there is something in this. I have listened to many a chat during Scotland trips, during work meetings (Glasgow football is a minefield of politics), during evenings in the pub and even listening to panels of footballers I’ve arranged for events. Football is a source of gossip. It is amazing how people (yes mainly men in my view) know all the in’s and outs of what is happening. It’s not just analysis of any one game. It’s the relationships, the politics, the intrigue, the banter, the negotiations, the commentary, the personalities and even more that seems to hold attention. You know when you get that, outdated, view by blokes that women are a bit gossipy. Well its cheeky of them given the content of their football chat. To be fair any female supporters of the game also engage in this; the point is that it’s about more than the 90 minutes.
So when we get women’s football into the mix there just isn’t enough history, politics, commentary and big personalities. Yet. So comments by a ‘shall remain nameless’ work colleague who described it as “too slow” probably only reflect the fact that all he had to engage in was the game he watched. It may have been the Scottish ‘punt it up the field’ approach rather than anything a bit more strategic, but in all honesty I think he just missed the ‘gossip’ and ‘banter’ that he gets with men’s football. Watching the France v Korea game there is honestly no visual difference (other than the ponytails wagging about) to a men’s international game. It looks like and feels like a game of football. Fair play to the organisers and the television channel who have made this ‘feel’ the same. It needed that.
Will it be just as popular?
I’d like to think so. The marketing is starting to take hold to give it the footing it needs. Posters, stories, lights and coverage. Well done to the organisers for this, as football that we want to watch and follow isn’t just about the game on the pitch. No games are slow, but games aren’t the only thing that holds our attention. The journey, the gossip, and pride need to be in the mix too. I am just hoping that our women’s Scotland team do better than our men’s. I also hope that it becomes more popular. C’mon the girls! C’mon Scotland!