All my life I have loved football. Even as a kid when we weren’t allowed to play, I still loved playing the game. I was always out in the street or on the park with the lads playing football from morning till night...
It has long been my dream for women’s football to have an equal playing field to that of the men, writes GAIL NEWSHAM (author of 'In a League of Their Own' the history of the Dick, Kerr Ladies) and it’s hard to put into words exactly how much pride and satisfaction I have felt watching Team GB playing in the Olympic Games. It’s a wonderful achievement for them and a massive step for women’s football. How wonderful for these girls to have this amazing opportunity. I never thought that in my lifetime, I would see women’s football on such a big stage. London 2012 is Global!! When I look back to how it was when I started playing it’s a million miles away.
I remember having to get changed in ramshackle chicken huts with only a rusty oil drum for a toilet but we did it because we loved the game. We had little or no support from The FA really and we administered all our own affairs. I am very proud of the part we played in the evolution of women’s football, to get the girls to this point now. How I wish we could have had the same opportunity!
I felt all the emotion when Kelly Smith sang the national anthem with such pride. I could see just what it meant to her and I was really choked. I feel proud that perhaps in some small way, we played a part in getting her, and the rest of Team GB to that point in their career.
And I thought about the Dick, Kerr Ladies who I am sure would have been looking down on Cardiff with a big smile on their faces. What an honour for women's football to kick-off The Olympic Games, and the performance at Wembley I know would have blown them away!!
They did not play in vain after the FA ban and 2012 is testament to that. I only hope that once the Olympic dust has settled women’s football will progress to a new level. These girls don’t just play football once every 4 years for a big tournament, they play every week and I hope the media will continue to get behind them and give them the coverage they deserve and help women’s football prosper and grow.
For my part I will continue to promote the game through the story of the Dick, Kerr Ladies and try to re-educate people on just how good women were and are in the football world. Only when you have a sense of the glittering history can you realise just how much we lost back then and it’s time to get back to where we left off!
After all we’ve been through, all the derogatory comments, jibes and sneers, maybe now it really is our time to shine.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE DICK, KERR LADIES AND THE BOOK WHICH RETELLS THEIR STORY?
Visit Gail's website HERE
Neither are workable or likely at present but hypothetically, would you prefer a more strict salary cap in the FA WSL OR should centrally contracted England players (that receive salaries from The FA) be allocated more evenly around WSL1 clubs?