Some of my fondest memories from when I was younger were the times that were spent outdoors, the ones where we built dens, climbed trees and played football until our parents called us in. I grew up in a household of football fans and would spend hours in the summer with friends, practising our football skills (admittedly my skill level was pretty poor). As I got older and into my teens, football became much more of a spectator sport only which was probably for the best, as I wasn’t particularly any good.
I was lucky that my high school, college and university all had women’s football teams but I wasn’t really an athletic, competitive sports kind of girl, thus never taking the opportunity to join a team. There are plenty of women that did continue to play the sport though, and I never quite realised just how popular women’s football had become. Some of those little girls that played football in their gardens with makeshift goals, just like I did, have gone on to become woman who are professional football players in the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 tournament. The tournament boasts teams full of strong, talented players such as England’s own Fara Williams MBE and Karen Carney MBE.
The UEFA Women’s EURO is the women’s equivalent of the UEFA European Championship and hosted every four years, just like that of their male counterparts but was only officially launched in 1984. The UEFA Women’s EURO tournament tends to be a little bit quieter than the UEFA European Championship but as women’s football is becoming more popular, with the likes of The Women’s Super League in England, it is now more prominent than ever, because football really isn’t just for boys.
This is the 12th UEFA Women’s EURO tournament and it is being hosted in the Netherlands, it started on the 16th July and the final on the 6th August 2017. It’s the first year that we have actually taken the time to watch the UEFA Women’s EURO tournament and we have been enjoying it as a family. We caught the last England game of the group stages on the 27th July, where England went on to win Portugal 2-1 which will bring them to the knockout stages and play France in the Quarter-finals. Little Leg’s has been very impressed so far and is looking forward to the next round.
Supporting the tournament is McDonalds Grassroots Football Programme which is the longest standing supporter of grassroots football, they are celebrating the 15th year of it’s community programme. The McDonalds Grassroots Football Programme has given youngsters of all abilities across the country, the chance to play football and develop their skills through community football days and classes. McDonalds Grassroots Football Programme consistently promotes a ‘football for all” approach and encouraging children and young adults to play and enjoy football, regardless of gender or disability. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged and it is that approach that McDonalds Grassroots Football Programme have taken, that has led to them being sponsors of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017.
When I was younger, I wasn’t even aware that there was a professional women’s tournament like the UEFA Women’s Euro, I’m glad that Little Leg’s gets to experience it from a young age. Recently she has been getting into a lot of sports, football being one of her favourites. She plays it during school hours and also during her afterschool sports club, she has also requested that she takes part in a local football camp for under 10’s during the summer holidays. She really enjoys it and I love seeing her develop an interest in sports. In a couple of years time, she will be able to try out for her school’s football team but being only 6 she will just have to practice her skills until then.
She has never watched football on TV until the UEFA Women’s EURO tournament started and from the first game, she was in awe. We let her stay up past her usual bed time so that she could watch her first game with a few snacks. Since she is only 6, she found it a little hard to follow but she thoroughly enjoyed asking questions and cheering both teams on. Watching her country play has encouraged her in her pursuit to play football.
The UEFA Women’s EURO tournament so far, has opened her eyes to the possibility that she too can play football, for an actual team and not just during her classes or kicking a ball around with her peers. She’s discovered football from a whole new perspective and now understands that football isn’t just for boys which excites her. I’m glad that there are strong female role models for Little Legs, other than the usual pop stars and most recent YouTube sensations. It looks like we’ll be looking for a local team for her to join with her new found enthusiasm for football.
Have you been keeping up with the UEFA Women’s EURO tournament? Have you watched women’s football before? We will definitely watching all the way through to the finals.
You can find out more information about McDonalds Grassroots Football programme here and also see how you can get involved as a parent, or even as a volunteer.
*DISCLAIMER: This is a collaboration with MCDONALD’S GRASSROOTS FOOTBALL. All thoughts and opinions are my own*