The inaugural Women’s Football Weekend is upon us.
This initiative, launched by the FA, encourages football fans across England to attend any women’s game during the men’s international break.
The FA’s aim of the initiative is to take advantage of having no Premier League football on the calendar and capitalise by introducing the women’s game to the supporters of affiliated clubs.
Four games this Sunday will take place in major stadiums, including Liverpool welcoming Everton to Anfield and Tottenham facing Arsenal at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in two huge derby fixtures.
Women’s football has had an exponential growth in popularity in recent years since the formation of the Women’s Super League nine years ago, highlighted by the support for Phil Neville’s national side on their road to the World Cup semi-finals in France this summer.
Speaking in Friday’s press conference ahead of this weekend’s fixture against West Ham, Man City captain Steph Houghton admitted she has been surprised at just how quickly the women’s game has developed.
“Eventually I knew it would come but maybe not the rate it has risen,” Houghton said.
“It’s fantastic for women’s football and now it’s all about making sure we get consistent numbers.
“This weekend you hope men’s supporters can come and support the affiliated teams but ultimately the standard of game has risen and that’s great for the game in England as whole,” the Three Lions skipper added.
A record home crowd of 77, 768 saw England beaten 2-1 by Germany at Wembley in an international friendly last Saturday and Houghton is delighted that new audiences are beginning to take an interest in women’s football.
“On Saturday at Wembley, I didn’t just see young girls come to watch us: I saw men and young boys with our names on the back of their shirts which is unbelievable and everyone wants to support the women’s team as well as the men’s.”
WSL Champions City face West Ham United at the Academy Stadium in a 12:30pm kick off on Sunday, targeting another high attendance after September’s inaugural Manchester Derby smashed records with over 31,000 in attendance at the Etihad.
BIG weekend coming up!
— Manchester City (@ManCity) November 15, 2019
Image courtesy of Man City via Twitter, with thanks.