Upon hearing the word ‘soccer’ it’s quite likely that you’d picture a pitch filled with male players, each striving to be the best that they can be; in fact, you’d be forgiven for doing so. You see, men have dominated the sport of soccer for so long now that many people simply forget that women can, and do, play too. All that may be about to change, though, as the popularity of women’s soccer, both for participants and those who enjoy watching, grows rapidly. So, what is it about girl’s soccer that has captured the nation’s imagination?
The World Cup effect
While our men’s team was knocked out of the 2014 FIFA World Cup by Belgium prior to the quarterfinals, the women’s team faired slightly better during the Women’s World Cup Final just last year. The term ‘slightly’ is an understatement, of course, as the USA beat Japan by five goals to two; a stunning result, and one that has inspired a whole nation. Some 23 million viewers watched the women’s team storm to victory, making their game the most watched soccer event in the history of American television – the men’s match managed a mere 17 million views. While some viewers were merely happy to watch America’s women succeed at soccer others were more inspired; participation in girl’s club soccer has risen by 37% since 1995, whilst high school soccer programs have also seen a boost. This spike is great news indeed, and enthusiasm for soccer amongst young girls and women looks set to rise further; perhaps we can set our sights on victory during future World Cup events, too.
The rise of girl’s soccer in the USA
The benefits of playing soccer are varied, and include increased exercise, a heightened awareness of fitness and wellbeing, improved co-ordination, the ability to play as part of a team, discipline, and mental strength, as well as a huge sense of achievement, regardless of whether a team wins or loses. More than that, though, soccer can easily become a way of life for the young girls and women who choose to play, and such a sense of being and belonging should certainly be nurtured; not many people get the opportunity to feel so valued, or to share such camaraderie.
So, just how should you go about getting involved in soccer? The great news is that the so-called World Cup effect has seen an increasing number of clubs and programs appearing, and so it’s easier than ever to access the right coaching. As with all sports it’s great to start young, so investigate whether your school, college, or local community center has a team or coaching sessions.
Soccer complements other sports fantastically; Maisie Lynton, the daughter of SONY Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton was involved with varsity soccer and cross-country running at school level, and is now interested in learning how to pilot planes, as well as documenting the world through a camera lens. While soccer and flight couldn’t appear any more different, both require a certain skill and determination that Maisie obviously possesses, as well as an interest in the human body’s limits. Indeed, this Maisie Lynton video documents her passion for flight and physics, and shows that anybody can take to the skies, or soccer pitch, if their heart truly desires.
If you’re a little older than Maisie, it’s always worth having a look at local community projects, scouting for teams online, or simply asking around. You see, you’re never too old to get involved, and the USA team’s huge successes should go a long way towards inspiring a new passion.
While women have been playing football almost as long as men their achievements have never been as well documented – until now. Soccer is becoming hugely popular for women, and we can’t wait to see the stars of tomorrow as they emerge and all the women’s soccer fashion that will undoubtedly be equally as fabulous.