With record attendances at the opening weekend of the 2019/20 Barclays FA WSL season, Reading’s Remi Allen tells us why the players want nothing more than to play in front of packed stadiums every single week.
The FA WSL made its long awaited return earlier this month, an exciting time for everyone involved in women’s football after all the backing and support shown to the game during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Two exciting opening derby fixtures – Manchester City v Manchester United and Chelsea v Tottenham – were the pick of the bunch, not only due to the nature of the rivalries but also they were being held at the Etihad Stadium and Stamford Bridge respectively, with record crowds expected.
Chelsea created a great atmosphere, bringing in more than 25,000 people, while Manchester City attracted the biggest ever FA WSL crowd of 31,323 – that’s around six times more fans than the previous best.
Over 31,000 of you here at the Etihad today.
— Man City Women (@ManCityWomen) September 7, 2019
Surely this shows great progress in the women’s game right?
My answer to that question is inherently yes; however we cannot allow that to become a one off or something that just happens only when we play in the biggest mens stadiums.
Bristol City also hosted their first game in a stadium usually frequented by the men, a clever move that saw them playing in front of 3,041 fans at Ashton Gate.
But the other games only drew in crowds of around 1,000 people. While still above last season’s average attendance of 833, there is obviously a huge difference in numbers there.
As a professional footballer, I am not naive enough to believe we have the capabilities to attract crowds of 30,000 week-in week-out just yet but I do believe we can keep striving and pushing for better.
The women’s game is far more accessible than it has ever been in terms of social media, TV coverage and the ability to connect with players. The fact that we now have the ability to watch every game on The FA Player is also a huge step in the right direction.
I would encourage anyone not sure on women’s football to watch via this, just to be able to appreciate the sheer quality of our game, how hard we work and actually how enjoyable it is. I think the more people that buy into this the more likely it is to get them to physically attend matches.
Women’s Football Weekend announced for the weekend of our @BarclaysFAWSL match against Bristol City at the Madejski Stadium. 🥳
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— Reading FC Women (@ReadingFCWomen) September 18, 2019
And actually attending women’s football matches is quite frankly a bargain in terms of pricing while also an unbelievable way for all young boys and girls out there to watch their role models live. It’s a great opportunity for them to see how you can have a dream and it can become a reality.
We were once them kids dreaming of a game we loved and now we get to live it every single day. It is literally our dream job.
As for me, I think it’s brilliant to play in some of the best stadiums in the world but what I find even more incredible is playing in front of a huge crowd, experiencing the buzz of them singing your name, the pure joy it brings to their faces and the interaction we as players get to have with them afterwards.
In total 63,000 fans travelled the country to watch the opening games of the FA WSL. It was an amazing start to what is going to be one of the most exciting seasons to date.
So let’s not take our foot of the gas. Keep coming, keep supporting in big stadiums or small stadiums; it doesn’t matter.
We need you.