Although England’s game with France ended 0-0 there was much to be learnt from the game itself both on and off the pitch.
Toni Duggan had a potential winning goal chalked off due to a handball in the dying minutes of the game and it would have been more than they deserved in a match dominated by the visitors, a side England have not beaten in 42 years.
Yet, in the crowd, something interesting was happening.
To the casual spectator the makeup of the crowd was interesting; there were a few of the die-hard male fans but it was predominantly made up of families and young girls who had come out to see the game with local football groups or teams. All seemed to be enjoying themselves cheering on England and joining in with Mexican waves and endless chants.
Isn’t that to be expected? At an England ladies game there are bound to be more women in the audience surely?
Well yes but that’s not really my point. All these families and aspiring footballers were coming together to watch a team that has been on the up in recent years, yet goes largely unreported.
It is forgotten, even now, so soon after it happened, that this was the team who came third in last year’s World Cup in Canada. Yet most of us, bar those desperately avoiding the back (and front) pages, will remember that the men’s team suffered their worst ever World Cup campaign in 2014.
England’s women are not and should not be forgettable and that’s why it was so inspiring to see so many young girls seeing professional footballers at the top of their game playing in Doncaster. Moments like these, I am sure, will be remembered for a long time to come.
During half time the stadium PA at the Keepmoat proudly announced the presence of many local teams and the schemes that the FA is running to get girls interested in football; a nice touch which again showed the growing interest in the women’s game and the continuing support for its growth.
A growth which was also demonstrated by the game’s attendance of 7,398 – five times the attendance of the average Women’s Super League matches and a figure helping to add to the trend of increasing supporter sizes at women’s games.
What also impressed me about this game was its accessibility. Tickets were relatively cheap and the game took place in Doncaster not London.
Here local girls could see what they could achieve if they kept up the hard work with little-to-no distance to travel.
At a time when ticket prices are being bemoaned heavily in the men’s game, it was refreshing to find the game open to everyone. After all, nothing motivates like seeing your hero in the flesh.
As for England themselves, they head to Euro 2017 with good form behind them and increasing legions of supporters to cheer them on.
A 2-1 friendly victory over Spain sealed a successful pre-tournament campaign, and Mark Sampson’s side will be confident that they can go one step further than they did in Canada.