Tag: women in sport

England’s Lionesses: Changing The Game

England’s Lionesses: Changing The Game

As the dust begins to settle on England’s Lionesses thrilling and historic victory over Germany in the final of Euro 2022, I feel that it is high time that we reflect on the enormity of their achievements both on and off the pitch. As with each stride to ending 56 years of hurt without a major trophy for this country, they have turned public perception of women’s football on its head.

The women’s game has spent many years as an afterthought which held neither the allure, skill, and excitement of the men’s game, which has long had a stranglehold as the world’s number one sport.

However, with such an exciting and highly skilled women’s European Championship now etched in the record books it is maybe time for the ladies to finally force their way alongside their male counterparts at the head of the table.

It cannot be ignored how the Lionesses captured this country’s imagination, as despite a nervy start to their campaign with a 1-0 victory over Austria, they eventually swept aside every single obstacle placed in their pathway, as no matter the quandary presented to them, these girls alongside their manager Sarina Wiegman found the solution time and time again.

The knockout stages saw this team as one of the lowest ranked left in the competition, yet it mattered not, as despite heading for defeat against a talented Spanish team it was Ella Toone who snatched a late equaliser sending the match into extra time.

Georgia Stanway would then take the mantle and drill home a spectacular winner in the 96th minute, a stirring fightback from the brink which embodied their sense of self belief to overcome adversity, handing England an eventual 2-1 victory.

The accompanying passion that exuded from stands at the Brighton community stadium, along with the skill set and standard of play between both teams made it a truly thrilling advertisement for the women’s game.

Sweden, a team ranked 2nd in the world, awaited in the next round and were expected to use their vast experience to outmaneuver an England side that was somewhat lacking in experience.

What unfolded was totally on the contrary, as despite a slow start, England slowly began to tighten their stranglehold on proceedings with a 1-0 lead at half time. Lucy Bronze added a second at the beginning of the second half and in the 68th minute came a stroke of pure genius from substitute Alessia Russo.

With her back to goal and seemingly on a road to nowhere, she conjured up an audacious backheel from out of nothing, which found its way through the Swedish goalkeepers legs and into the back of the net, it was a moment that belonged on the world stage of Elite football regardless of gender, as England eventually ran out 4-0 victors.

As if by fate we would face yet another meeting with old foes Germany in a Wembley showpiece final, 56 years on from the last time England have lifted a major trophy in Football, whilst the German team have won this championship an astonishing eight times.

With history against them the lionesses would fight against convention once again, yet this time it would be on the pitch against a fearsome foe.

With an atmosphere at fever pitch we witnessed a fiery and passionate final in front of a record 87,000 crowd, and in the 62nd minute it truly sprung into life as Ella Toone’s beautiful lob gave England a 1-0 lead. Yet as ever we were pegged back to 1-1 by German Striker Lina Magull’s cool near post finish with only 10 minutes left on the clock. It would be extra time once more, and as ever these women simply would not lie down in the face of adversity, as they pushed for a late winner.

In the 110th minute euphoria finally arrived in the shape of Chloe Kelly’s right boot as she emerged victorious in a fraught goalmouth scramble, poking home the winner, sending Wembley into pandemonium as the entirety of the England bench spilled onto the pitch to join her in a celebration that has since become iconic, as she tore off her shirt and waved it around her head in scenes in pure elation and joy.

When the celebrations began in earnest at the final whistle it was a monumental moment as the ladies had finally delivered where the men have agonisingly came up short on so many occasions.

For that alone they must receive huge plaudits as the enormity and pressure of big time sporting events has been known to eat up both teams and individuals alike, so to demonstrate such mental fortitude in the pressure cooker of a major final deserves special acclaim.

It can only serve to inspire a new generation of young girls and boys to follow their dreams and look to carve out a path into our national sport which sadly has been inaccessible for far too long for young girls.

In comparison boys have always been provided with every facet possible to enjoy and participate in the sport, which is unjust as this competition has served as a reminder of the talent that we possess in the female game in this country. Thus, we need to continue to nurture it as such by providing young girls the tools to play the game itself.

In my mind this tournament has served as a wake up call to anyone who believes that women’s sport as a whole is somehow inferior, as there is so many inspirational female figure’s across the world of sport and beyond, with it high time that Football holds itself accountable and regards these achievements in as much high esteem as its male counterpart.

The World Cup in 2023 is next on the agenda for this group of fearless and courageous players, who have emerged from this summers exhilarating European Championships as household names in their own right. Which is deservedly so, as attendance and television viewing figures reached an all time high for the women’s game and it would be a real pity if this momentum and enthusiasm ends here.

How these women have battled their way into this country’s hearts, minds, and affections must now draw a line in the sand, as this momentous victory has resonated with so many people across the country regardless of gender.

Alas, I believe that it is our duty as a nation to put any prejudice and any false impressions in the past and to embrace this new found appetite for women’s Football that these heroic Lionesses have rightly earned.

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Phil.

Fallon Sherrock: Breaking Boundaries

Fallon Sherrock: Breaking Boundaries

Dubbed the queen of the palace after her stunning debut success at the World Darts Championships in 2019, Fallon Sherrock marked her return to arms at this years tournament on December 19th with an opening round clash with former BDO World Champion Steve Beaton.

With the return of spectators it is sure to be an action packed and star studded event, with so many contenders in prime position to mount an assault on the prestigious Sid Waddell trophy and the £500,000 jackpot on offer.

The standard of play has never been higher in the men’s game as astronomical averages are being set on a weekly basis, and this is sure to set the stage for a thrilling tournament.

Amongst that prestigious field sits Fallon Sherrock who has punched a path through the men’s game unlike any female has ever managed in the sport before.

Her appearance at the 2019 World Championship saw the first ever victory for a female at the tournament in its forty year history, an unforgettable moment that captured the imagination of every sports fan in the country.

She would eventually succumb to Chris Dobey 4-2 in sets in the third round of the tournament, yet her journey through those three rounds mattered so much more than the final destination, as Sherrock had finally shattered the glass ceiling for female athletes in a predominately male sport. Ladies had competed in this tournament previously but not one had managed to overcome such a monumental obstacle, and in doing so Fallon Sherrock became a overnight sensation and won an entire legion of fans in the process, both male and female.

Her groundbreaking performance laid waste to the notion that women cannot compete with men in elite level sports, whilst some naysayers believed her to be a flash in the pan.

Sherrock went on to silence any doubters however, with a series of hugely impressive outings in multiple televised events, most notably in September 2021 she became the first woman in the history of the PDC to reach the final of a televised tournament at the Nordic Masters, eventually falling to the mighty Michael Van Gerwen 11-7 on legs.

Her imperious form continued in earnest at last months Grand Slam of Darts, as she yet again barged down the door of male superiority by reaching the quarter finals of a major event filled with household names. Her narrow and subsequent 16-13 loss on legs to former World Champion Peter Wright was greeted with a shower of praise from fans and pundits of the game alike, as she continues to fly in the face of convention each time she steps onto the oche.

The next stop for her is a return to Alexandra Palace where Sherrock’s star shone so bright in 2019, and it is sure to be an emotional return for her after failing to qualify for last years event during the on-going pandemic.

Her strides forward as a competitor has been nothing short of remarkable, as the svelte lady in pink continues to make a mockery of any shallow belief that women cannot emulate the men at the highest level, and in doing so she has earned the respect of her male peers within the game.

To do so whilst placed under the microscope every time she steps up on stage deserves a huge amount of respect, as it cannot be easy to be thrust into the limelight so quickly. Yet she admirably seems to take it all in her stride as she continues her inspiring tale of success into the men’s game, where as previously women would only compete against each other in a separate tournament.

Much to their credit the Professional Darts Corporation are offering more opportunities to women than ever to battle it out amongst their male counterparts, and once again Lisa Ashton will also compete in this years World Championship, however she continues to be without a win in the tournament.

Ultimately though it is Fallon Sherrock who has taken her opportunities and ran with them, as she looks to build upon her budding reputation as a genuine threat in any competition that she enters. With a solid showing at this years World Championship we may also see her square off against the cream of the crop on a weekly basis in the Premier League, which would be yet another monumental first.

As far as I can see I would say that it would fully deserved as this pioneer for women’s sport continues to prove that she belongs on the big stage, rather than to have her participation treated as a mere sympathy act.

Her journey has shone the spotlight on what women are truly capable of when given equal opportunities and she has not just pushed against centuries old boundaries, she has smashed through them with great gusto. Thus, it is time to celebrate her marvelous achievements since her magical debut at Alexandra Palace in 2019.

Consequently, I feel that there are certain sports that would benefit from simply handing females the opportunity to compete, as it would see many more eyes on the product, and with Fallon Sherrock making such a positive impact in the world of Darts it can surely only inspire other women to participate in any sport that they wish.

Over time women’s role in society has changed and adapted enormously from just being mothers and wives in the not so distant past, as now we see them as people of power, friends, and important role models for many children in all walks of life. Alas, our attitude to women has changed so much over the last century and I feel it is time that sport echoes those sentiments and their achievements should be held in as much high regard as the men.

I do feel that has been prevalent over the last few years with the likes of Emma Raducanu deservedly gaining hero like status for her astonishing major win at the US Open tennis, but there is still some work to do as far as I can see in terms of equal pay and recognition in society as a whole.

What Fallon Sherrock has accomplished should be the first steps in the evolution of Darts and possibly other sports, as surely if you are talented enough to reach the required standard then you deservedly belong on that playing field regardless of gender.

I sincerely believe that Fallon Sherrock can continue to challenge the status quo at this years highly anticipated World Championship as she has quickly become a precious commodity to both Darts and sport in general, as her popularity has known no bounds as both male and female fans have taken her to their hearts.

It is now almost time for her to ruffle some feathers once more, and personally I am looking forward to what she can achieve at this tournament and beyond, as she blazes a trail that no female has ever travelled down previously.

Professional Darts requires an innate ability to perform under pressure and be able to harness mental clarity at pivotal moments, and from what I have witnessed it seems that Fallon Sherrock has these attributes in abundance as her quest for a maiden major title continues to gain pace.

Personally, I hope that she makes that giant leap sooner rather than later!

Thanks for reading!

For further articles click on any of the links down below or use the menu button at the head of this page.

Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe!

Phil.