Katy Sandalls: Despite World Cup success, I’m still concerned about the future of women’s football

Tears for England's star Ellen White after defeat by the US - now we have to keep the buzz going! P

Tears for England's star Ellen White after defeat by the US - now we have to keep the buzz going! Picture: PA - Credit: PA

After a month of incredible football Katy Sandalls looks back at what we can learn from the Women’s World Cup and what we can do back in Suffolk to support the game.

After a month of adrenaline-filled anticipation, nail biting and swearing at TV screens the Women's World Cup has finished for another four years.

I won't lie to you reader, there's a World Cup shaped hole in both my viewing schedule and my heart at the moment knowing that it is all over.

For weeks we have been treated to masterclasses from some of the biggest and best women's football players in the world.

We marvelled at Rapinoe's class, we gasped at Lindahl's finger-tip saves and we tried to figure out just how Ellen White's hands make her trademark glasses before ultimately giving up.

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We've seen players labelled as everything from arrogant to inspirational online, with all kinds of celebrities keen to offer their opinions or support.

I've been surprised by the number of comments from family, friends and work colleagues - who don't usually count women's football among their many interests - who have enjoyed spending time watching matches.

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In short, we've been spoilt by coverage; in newspapers, online, on TV and radio.

And yet I am still concerned about the future of women's football.

It came out this week that 28.1 million people, almost 50% of the country's population, watched the tournament.

Fantastic, you say! Isn't this exactly what you want? Why are you worried?

It is fantastic news and more than I could have hoped for - but I'm not greedy, I'm realistic.

While it's great that people have been turning on their TVs to watch women's football it doesn't translate into support for the game.

Sure people have been intrigued by women's football and many have been persuaded to stop shouting at players to get back into the kitchen - thank goodness! - but that doesn't generate income for struggling clubs where players still work other jobs, and frankly that doesn't get bums on seats.

Attendances at women's football games are still incredibly low.

I get it, flicking on the telly is a lot easier than trekking to your local women's team, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't make the effort.

Indeed now, after a month of superb football, should be the time for you to get out and watch women's football in the flesh.

Take your daughter, take your dad, take your next door neighbour whose lawn mower you still have!

Just go out and watch and see what women's football has to offer.

It's crowds turning out to watch games, paying for tickets and snacks etc that keeps women's football teams going.

So let's be realistic where can you watch women's football in Suffolk? The answer is refreshingly simple; almost everywhere.

Most of our major towns have a women's football team.

Most play in the Suffolk Women's and Girls league with a few - such as East Bergholt, AFC Sudbury and Newmarket - playing a step up in the Eastern Region league.

Ipswich Town are the top rated side in the area, playing in the FA Women's National League Division One South East, the fourth tier of English football.

Any and all of these teams would be pleased to see you come along to a game and support them.

If you want higher division football you are going to have to head towards London and perhaps make a day of it.

Our closest FA Championship side - the second tier of women's football - will be the London City Lionesses.

If you want to see the World Cup heroes battling it out against each other look for our nearest top-level FA Women's Super League sides such as Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea.

Two of those sides, Tottenham and Chelsea are set to battle it out at Stamford Bridge at the start of the season in a game which will cost you absolutely nothing to watch.

The Lionesses will be back together again as one team in November when they take on Germany.

Over 30,000 seats have already been sold for that game, which will be hosted at Wembley, despite it being four months away.

By going to see these clubs you are making a difference, without support the likes of Houghton, White and Kirby etc would never have made it.

Without you, the next generation might not.

Keep up to date with all of the goings on of women's football in Suffolk and beyond by following our women's football Twitter account @Glancing_Header and Instagram @glancingheader.

Email your stories to katy.sandalls@archant.co.uk or @katysandalls on Twitter.

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