With recent political campaigns striving to implement fresh ideologies surrounding gender equality, it seems an overarching goal for society might be to ensure all may be provided with level opportunities. This seems to have transpired into the sporting world, and with the Paralympics perhaps showcasing the vast proficiencies of women, and the reasoning as to why they might, therefore, warrant plaudits, now may be a poignant opportunity for equilibrium to occur. This may be the philosophy utilised by football, with the SheBelieves Cup, which unites four of the most accomplished nations in the world, currently ongoing.
With these nations boasting high rankings, along with vast trophy cabinets, all may possess the required credentials to triumph, and with the sport aiming to entice fresh viewers, highlighting the strength in depth may be an intelligent decision. The tournament itself was originally established in 2016, and with this coinciding with innovations domestically, including staging FA Cup finals at Wembley, it seems placing a fresh outlook on the game may be a prominent ideology. The four competitors have remained consistent across the three editions, and with all possessing a high status on the international stage, emerging with the trophy may ultimately occur solely as a result of consistent performances. As such, motivation may be at its peak for the competition, with the opportunity to attain silverware and compete versus a smorgasbord of accomplished opponents requiring those involved to be well equipped.
Whilst all of England’s rivals may have superior credentials, with all three claiming international triumphs, the English side seems to be aiming to build upon the foundations created by Mark Sampson. The innovation in the domestic league seemed to benefit him, as it generated a wider pool of eligibility. Thus, competition for places seemed high, with this continuing prior to the tournament, and whilst some key players, including captain Steph Houghton, are absent, it generated opportunities for others. Whilst perhaps impacting the quality of the squad, the unity showcased seems to have contributed to successes thus far, with the nation relishing their position as underdogs en route to victory versus France and a draw with Germany. Yet, they may also be striving to improve on these performances, most notably surrounding the second German goal, and with this perhaps a key trait required for success at the pinnacle, the transition into the upcoming World Cup may be becoming increasingly viable. A prime reason behind this desire for improvement may be the introduction of Phil Neville as manager, with his vast accomplishments throughout his playing career perhaps providing him with the required credentials to attain the position.
The tournament seems to also have enabled him to learn about his squad, and hone his tactics, and thus he may be able to cement his position further. He may have also enhanced the credibility of the sport, with his status perhaps a key factor, and thus his appointment may solely serve to draw attention onto the women’s game and entice an influx of athletes to become increasingly involved. Thus, whilst the tournament may be beneficial for Neville, he may have a more significant impact, paving the way for his squad to become pioneers for their colleagues. With England’s concluding fixture versus the US perhaps the most challenging, with their status as World Champions highlighting their proficiency, it may also signal an opportunity for England to narrow the divide between the two and show how they may warrant a similar status in the future. As such, they may seek to utilise this period productively, as the success for them may lay the foundations for others to reap further benefits.
With national football perhaps bypassing club affiliations due to a sense of national pride, support seems prominent, with established commentators and television broadcasting also contributing to exposure. If the women may win this tournament, they may be superiorly equipped to triumph in France, and with the 1966 team rewarded with vast recognition, including on football cards in order for younger generations to learn about them, the women’s team may soon boast a similar pedigree.
How might the importance of this tournament increase credibility of women’s football?