Women’s football has always taken a backseat to that of Men’s and in recent years many have struggled to take the sport seriously. In terms of salary, sponsorship and media coverage it’s clear that a gender divide is prominent. Women’s football in Great Britain in the past few years has grown massively making it the most popular women’s sport in the nation with over 1.4 million women playing regularly. Participation may have improved at local levels but women’s football in the eye of the public still remains inferior to that of the men’s game. I have chosen to look at Steph Houghton, Manchester City and England football captain, for sportswomen in the spotlight this week as I believe that women’s football should have as much respect and appreciation as the men’s game.
If you’re into your women’s football the name Steph Houghton will be familiar to you. Houghton’s club career has also be monumental. In 2007 she played for Leeds United where she was part of the team that won the FA Women’s Premier League Cup. Then in 2013 Houghton captained Arsenal ladies to a double victory winning both the FA Cup and Continental Cup. Since 2014 Houghton has played and captained Manchester City where she is playing in the FA WSL 1 division, the highest level of women’s club football.
Houghton has always had her eyes on representing her country, being in the England football system since the U16 level and working her way up with hard dedication through the process of U20, U21, and U23 to finally make it into the England Senior team when she made her debut match in 2007 against Russia. In 2006 Houghton was named FA young player of the year further demonstrating that she was destined for fantastic things in the senior side. Houghton was also one of the first women to receive a central contract by the FA. Since then Houghton has represented England 78 times winning 49 of those matches. It’s no wonder Houghton was made England captain in 2014/ Houghton scored her first World Cup goal against Norway in the quarterfinals of the 2015 World Cup resulting in her being chosen as player of the match. That goal qualified England to their first semi-finals ever under Houghton’s captaincy.
Houghton also represented Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympic Games where she became the team’s record goalscoer scoring in all three of the group stage games in order to help GB secure the group title with a 100% record. She scored the winning goals against Brazil and New Zealand. Houghton was also named left back of the entire tournament due to her incredible performance throughout the Olympics. If that wasn’t enough in the 2016 New Year’s Honours list Houghton was given an MBE for her incredible services to women’s football.
I have already convinced you that Houghton is not only a bit of a legend in the sphere of women’s football but also in the world of football itself. If you’re still a bit undecided if you want to start watching women’s football then just remember these few facts when you’re supporting the England Men’s side. Not only do the women’s side get more people watching their friendlies than men, with the women selling 55,000 tickets for Wembley compared to the 40,000 average of the men’s, the women’s side can also still put double figures past their opposition with ease which the men haven’t done since 1964 so if you’re wanting a high scoring game full of action and passion the women’s side is definitely the one to watch. Also did I mention that the women’s side have much higher FIFA ranking than the men do? With the women comfortably holding on to 5th place and the men at a rather disappointing 13th. I mean I know which team I would put money on winning over the other and I know the women would be a lot better to watch.