Written by: Stacey Morton, Marketing Consultant, SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts
With FIFA’s Women’s World Cup set to “kick off” on June 6th, it’s a great time to think about the history of women in soccer and what is being done today to encourage female participation in this word class sport.
Soccer is the most prominent team sport played by women around the globe. It is played at the professional level in numerous countries throughout the world and 176 national teams participate internationally.
Women’s soccer has faced many struggles throughout its history. During the 1970s, Italy became the first country with professional women’s football players on a part-time basis. In 1985, the United States national soccer team was formed and in 1989, Japan became the first country to have a semi-professional women’s football league, the L. League – still in existence today. It wasn’t until 1996 that women’s soccer was added to the Olympic schedule.
From the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament held in 1991 to the 1,194,221 tickets sold for the 1999 Women’s World Cup, visibility and support of women’s professional football (soccer) has increased around the globe.
However, as in other sports, women have struggled for pay and opportunities equal to male soccer players. Major league and international women’s soccer has enjoyed far less television and media coverage than the men’s equivalent. In spite of this, the popularity and participation in women’s soccer continues to grow.
This year, at the 100 days prior milestone, more than half a million fans have already claimed their seats for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ and the coverage is slated to be the biggest broadcast production ever invested in so far for a women’s football tournament. This supports FIFA’s commitment to develop and promote women’s soccer and it reflects the huge momentum and interest in women’s soccer around the world today.
While it is essential for organizations such as FIFA to promote and support women’s soccer, local businesses such as hotels can also provide much needed support by helping teams with special rates to ease the burden of expense of team travel. Youth sports in general can be significantly impacted by friendly hotel rates and added benefits. Staying in a hotel with a kitchenette such as Home2 Suites by Hilton West Edmonton can reduce the cost of eating out, and hotels such as Best Western Charlottetown offer complimentary hospitality rooms for team meetings and the staff there have been known to join in on a game of stick ball in the hallways! Free breakfast can also help save youth teams money and make sure they are well fueled for the big game. Harbour Towers Hotel & Suites in Victoria, BC offers free breakfasts for team as well as other perks and Quality Hotel Fort McMurray provides free breakfast and a complimentary room for the team’s bus driver.
They say a woman’s work is never done and this is no truer than in the competitive environment of youth sports. All youth sports need support to develop young talent, but the more we can support young women to pursue athletic endeavors, the more quickly we can reduce the disparity in funding and recognition for these talented young ladies.