Whether you’re a sports nut, a casual fan or you’re not particularly interested, it’s hard to ignore when the World Cup rolls into town. This year saw the return of the Women’s World Cup and it came in with a bang, generating the biggest women’s football audience in the country; a record of 4.019 million viewers for the England v. Scotland game alone. It’s something that we at Cohorted love; powerful women achieving amazing things.
That’s why we wanted to spend some time diving into the history of the Women’s World Cup and give you all some info on how you can get involved.
Way back when…The history of the Women’s World Cup.
There’s been a total of 8 Women’s World Cup tournaments to date, which have all been won by one of 4 national teams. The USA have won 4 of the 8 competitions, including this year’s where they beat the Netherlands 2-0. Previous winning teams are Germany (who’ve won twice), Japan and Norway.
However, the first Women’s World Cup started way back in 1970, in Italy in July. It was followed by another unofficial tournament in Mexico the next year; Denmark won after beating the home nation in the final. These weren’t classified as official tournaments, though; they weren’t officially approved until 1991.
In 1988, a tournament that was invite-only was held in China, to test whether a global Women’s World Cup would ever work out. Naturally, it was super popular, with the opening match garnering a 45,000 strong audience. Norway went on to win 1-0 against sister country Sweden in the final, and it was therefore decided that it was successful. On 30th June, FIFA approved the creation and formation of an official Women’s World Cup, and the first official Women’s World Cup was scheduled for 1991. This was again held in China, and there were 12 teams. The US beat reigning champions Norway in the final 2-1.
Fast forward to 1999. This year saw the most exciting Women’s World Cup to date, known best for a famous celebration in the final. Brandi Chastain, one of the USA’s star defenders, celebrated a Cup-winning penalty against China by taking off her shirt and waving it above her head. Rather than shock and outrage though, photos of her celebration were hailed as iconic in women’s sport. This year, a statue was even built in commemoration of her. It was a real game changer in women’s sport and still represents female strength and power today.
This 1999 final also holds the world record for attendance at a women’s sporting event, drawing in 90,185 people.
Originally, only 16 teams would compete in each Women’s World Cup tournament, but in 2015 when Canada hosted, the number of teams grew to 24. Players Formiga, of Brazil, and Homare Sawa, of Japan, appeared in their 6th World Cup, which was a record that hadn’t been achieved before – even in the men’s game.
The future of the Women’s World Cup is still to be decided though, and there’s so much more to come. We found out the best ways that you can get involved in all the excitement.
If you’re looking to start playing the beautiful game, there’s plenty of clubs, activity centres and even Soccercise to keep you interested. The FA have all the latest info to keep you going and help you get engaged with women’s footie. You could also join a 5-a-side team locally, or just buy a ball to have a kickabout with your friends. If you’ve got children, it’s a perfect way to keep them active too. You don’t need to be a pro.
If you’re better at giving instruction rather than playing, there’s something for you too! There’s loads of coaching courses to give you some tips and even qualifications on coaching a side. Get that competitive nature stoked up and help the newest talent to succeed.
Or, if you’re keen to get up close and personal with the action, becoming a referee gives you the best view in the house, guaranteed. Plus, it’s an excellent way to develop new skills, learning about sports, discipline and so much more.
Let’s not forget the spectators among you! Women’s football is slowly gaining traction and growing in popularity, but there’s still so far to go. Buying tickets to go and see games, checking them out on TV and sharing all your positivity for women’s sport is infinitely useful, so if you’re wanting to support without getting all sweaty, there’s still a way to get involved.