The 2018 FIFA World cup kicks off on 14 June in Moscow and football fans across the land will hope that 52 years on England can match the success of the famous World Cup winning team of 1966. Since then it was Bobby Robson who has come closest taking England to the1990 semi-final against West Germany, where they got beat 6-2 and eventually finished fourth overall after getting beat by Italy in the third place play-off. Robson is the longest serving men’s England manager since world cup winning manager Alf Ramsay.
The women’s game is going from strength to strength and commercially now attracting brands that once sponsored men’s football, Continental Tyres for example moved to sponsoring women’s football to reach a broader and potentially more influential market. Brands are attracted to female players for their position as accessible brand ambassadors and ‘clean’ role models. With the behaviour of some male footballers on and off the pitch sometimes attracting the wrong publicity, the enthusiasm in the positive attributes of female footballers only heightens. Many are excelling in careers outside of football because the game to date has not remunerated the way it does for male players. Eni Aluko is an example being a qualified lawyer.
If there are any parallels to be drawn between the men’s and women’s game, it is that to develop a team can take time, especially at international level and that can be compounded if the game itself needs cultivating to develop better players. Aged 31, the youngest ever coach of an England team, Hope Powell CBE, began her 15 year tenure in 1998. Powell started her football career at Millwall Lionesses, one of the oldest women’s football clubs and went on to play for Fulham, Bromley and Croydon in addition to 66 caps for England.