Nino Severino: England’s World Cup Lionesses will inspire a whole generation
- Credit: PA
In his latest column, Nino Severino discusses the impact that England’s Lionesses and their run to the World Cup semi-finals will have on a generation of youngsters.
This week saw the end of the footballing dreams for England at the semi-finals stage of the FIFA Women's World Cup.
But it would be fair to say that the achievement of the squad has impacted a nation of young girls who will now embrace the Beautiful Game, and be part of the growth that will undoubtably take place.
It's this growth that will play a very big part in England bringing back the Women's World Cup one day.
As an elite coach to both junior and senior athletes across many sports, I make it my job to try and understand talent, and how this talent develops into sporting greatness.
Through my studies, what has become very clear to me is that very often ignition points kickstart an era of brilliance. And, because of the success of the England women's team, I believe this is what we will now experience in the UK in women's football.
Because of the Lionesses, a nation of girls will now be inspired - but this inspiration, and of course motivation, will need to be capitalised on by our governing body the FA and, following this, a strategy, a plan of action and easy access to this wonderful game for girls across the UK.
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Then, the hard work begins. This is where the army of coaches will need to step up to the plate and embrace their responsibility of delivering quality coaching - this phase of foundation work will form the beginning of a wave of female footballers that will learn the craft of football, and one day emerge as the future Lionesses who will bring that famed trophy home.
These girls will be carrying on the legacy of the current team, and they will build on all that has been achieved in France this year.
The team was led by a strong woman and a footballing star, Steph Houghton, who has conducted herself so well at the very highest level - she has been a leader of a group of women who have not only been role models to a nation of young girls, but also to a generation of young aspirational boys as well.
I say boys as well because Steph and the team have been such a high-profile story, which in my opinion will affect all, not just the many millions of girls who would have followed the high quality action they witnessed on our television screens.
I hope that the missed penalty will not now define Houghton - sport is full of ups and downs, and the media must focus on the greatness that has been achieved.
On a day-by-day basis I listened to coverage that represented not only the footballing skill of the England team, but also the broader achievement which proved that the ladies are incredibly professional in all departments.
The way they act away from training and competition, across their media duties, the way they have treated the fans and their overall attitude to be respectful to the badge has been first class.
I was also impressed with the cross-sport focus when Houghton and the team were searching for inspiration, it gave me a great sense of pride that they turned to my primary sport of tennis for this motivation.
It was a chance meeting with the great Serena Williams that was the source of this inspirational focus at the hotel the team was staying at, and the comments that Serena made after watching the team train.
The tennis icon praised the team's fitness, work ethic and gym routines, calling the group 'amazing'.
Houghton said: "For her to say that about us is amazing for this squad. That's what we want to pride ourselves on, the hard work, the ability to be one of the fittest teams in the world and to be really humble in everything that we do, so for someone of that calibre and so much status to say that about me and my team-mates is unbelievable and I'd like to thank her for that."
I have no doubt that the England women's team will continue to grow in global reputation and stature - and I believe that the team can aspire to reach the sporting status of legends like Serena Williams.
What an incredible story that will be.