A former Northern Ireland captain believes more needs to be done to invest in women’s football at her home ground to capitalize on the growing interest following England’s Euro 2022 triumph.
ail Redmond, Women’s Development Manager at the Irish FA Foundation, spoke after the Lionesses’ historic triumph on Sunday.
The team, led by Sarina Wiegman, defeated Germany 2-1 after extra time in front of a record crowd of 87,000 at Wembley Stadium.
Thousands of fans gathered in Trafalgar Square, London yesterday for a victory parade. England captain Leah Williamson joked: “I think we’ve been partying more than playing football in the last 24 hours.”
Fans hailed the win as a “great” moment, while the Football Association’s director of women’s football, Baroness Sue Campbell, said England’s victory will make a “phenomenal difference”.
Here, Gail Redmond said the English FA’s “smart investment” had paid off and that the focus should now shift to the Northern Ireland side and what can be done at grassroots level to boost women’s football.
“They have invested heavily in a top executive who is a proven winner, they have done everything they can to bring themselves to this level of success and left no stone unturned which shows the true success story is that you can, if you invest, you reap really big rewards,” she said.
Redmond said there has been a real “culture shift” in women’s football in recent years, not just nationally but globally.
“If we can invest in women’s football and the product is good, people will want to see it and you saw that from last World Cup to this year’s European Championship.”
Redmond said the surge in support for women’s football has helped “normalize” the sport for both boys and girls.
“They want to see a quality football game and that’s what you’re seeing now,” she said.
“Before, there wasn’t the same investment or proper training for female players, but now we do, and now those players are reaping those rewards.
“It’s not uncommon for boys now for women to be coaches or footballers, it’s normal behavior for this generation and it’s phenomenal, they don’t know any different and that’s the way it should be and that’s true success there.”
The former NI captain said her best hope for the future is that Northern Ireland now receive the same investment as the England team in terms of sponsorship.
“We were actually one of the first home nations to have our own women’s football-only sponsorship with Electric Ireland,” she explained.
“Scotland and Wales didn’t have that, so we know that if we continue to push through now and build that right structure from the ground up, we can get to that level,” she said.
“We don’t have professional football here, everything is still in its infancy, but for that we have to change the structures at club level all the way up.
“Women were generally seen as a package along with the men’s team but now you see more and more companies investing in women’s football elsewhere and that’s where we need to be.”
In addition to increased sponsorship, Redmond said fans can also play a big part in bringing about that change.
“We need the fans to come and support the women’s team, so the same Glentoran fans, Linfield fans and Cliftonville fans all come out to support them,” she said.
“We need to see that cultural shift to bring fans to these games so that more money is generated and we can also see a brand evolve.”
Redmond said this increased support and continued coverage will help keep some of the local female football talent here at home.
“We don’t want all our players to go and play in England or Scotland, we want them here in a successful league here in Northern Ireland,” she said.
“We can do that, but we need tMake sure we do the right thing now and invest in what we have here.”
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/womens-football-here-needs-same-investment-as-englands-lionesses-says-former-ni-captain-41883162.html Women’s football here needs same investment as England’s lionesses, says former NI captain