History and evolution of women's football

Girl and football? A skeptic might smirk, "Well, Never!" while an optimist would exclaim, "Oh! That's great!"

I am an optimist.

Why have women started playing football, traditionally considered a "non-feminine" sport? How did society perceive women's football, and what is its history? Does the behavior of women differ from men on the field? What stereotypes have famous female footballers shattered, and why have they become the subject of ridicule by bloggers and journalists? And why did FIFA allocate significant funds for the development of women's football in 2019, confirming its importance and popularity on the global stage? All this and more awaits you in this article.

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The History of Women's Football Development

Let's dive a little into history and find out where this aesthetically unpleasing sport for ladies originated?

In the mid-19th century, football for girls was more of a pastime for the upper class. For instance, brides found grooms and spent time playing football if they got bored of horseback riding and cricket. Since then, interest in the game has spread among women from different social strata, with some attempting to join men's teams, often resulting in ridicule. There were no specialized footwear, uniforms, or protective gear, and the playing fields often resembled muddy patches, making it challenging to run around without falling. Moreover, playing in dresses and lingerie was unbearably hot, and exposing any part of a woman's body was not allowed at the time.

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Nellie Hudson, a renowned advocate for women's rights, along with her friends, founded the football club FC British Ladies in England in 1874, and in one interview, she said she formed the team "with a firm intention to prove to the world that women are not just useless decorative creatures, as men try to portray them!" This statement caused quite a scandal in the press: British reporters noted that girls were completely unsuited for the strenuous work on the football field and such public expressions of feelings should not be taken seriously.

During World War I, women's football gained recognition among enthusiasts of the sport, as many girls, besides playing their favorite game, had to cope with strenuous labor and harsh military discipline, but they didn't stop playing football. The Ministry of War organized various leisure activities, the most popular of which was football. And to this day, girls "kick" the leather ball and attract crowds of passionate fans at football matches.

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Differences from Men's Football

So, many adhered to the cliché that football is exclusively a men's sport. But let's debunk these stereotypes, remove labels, and find out why the "weaker sex" is not so weak after all.

Today, sports traditionally considered male have become no less popular for girls. Many girls start getting into football from a young age and are quite successful at it. Many female commentators are seen at football tournaments and championships, often invited to officiate matches at the highest level. Even in stadiums, it's increasingly common to encounter representatives of the fairer sex who, with no less enthusiasm than men, cheer for their favorite football team and confidently grasp the intricacies of the game.

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Women's football, of course, differs from the men's game. Primarily, due to lower levels of testosterone, women cannot make powerful shots, which is one of the significant criteria for successful play in football. Also, women have certain physiological limitations. But they have access to high speed and agility, sports anger, perseverance, tactical interactions in team play, on par with boys. Girls are capable of showing a very spectacular game; they are more enduring, albeit less motivated but more passionate.