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England’s ‘lionesses’ inspire with victories for a country where many girls can’t play football

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LONDON – It’s finally come home.

But as England can finally celebrate winning a major football tournament, it’s not the country’s famous male stars who have graced the front pages, been greeted by crowds in the capital or led the nation in mad songs.

Fans, players and coaches are now hoping that the victory for the women’s football team – and the shared moment it touched – will not only be the end of decades of pain in their national sport, but also a turning point for women’s football in the country and beyond.

A record crowd of 87,000 fans and at least another 17.4 million at home watched England’s 2-1 win over Germany in the European Championship final on Sunday.

Spectators at London’s Wembley Stadium greeted the final whistle with “Three Lions,” a popular pop song whose wistful chorus “Football’s Coming Home” has become a cornerstone of a national sporting culture that to this day is viewed almost exclusively as male.

Long ignored and underfunded compared to the all-conquering men’s football with its multi-billion dollar TV deals and teams owned by oligarchs and sovereign wealth funds, women’s football is now receiving more attention than ever.

Rachel Yankey, Britain’s first professional footballer and one of the most successful players of her day, told NBC News that England’s victory was a pivotal moment.

“We need to normalize the game and value our female stars as much as our male stars – and not just think of it as ‘oh, it’s only women’s football’. It’s football played by women,” she said.

“I think that happened more at this tournament than at any other,” she said.

Yankey, who played 129 times for England, shaved her head and called herself “Ray” at the age of 8 to play on a boys’ team.

Today, just a third of girls aged 5 to 18 play football every week and only 63% of schools in England offer girls the opportunity to play football during PE lessons, according to the football associationthe governing body of the game.

“There’s still work to be done, but yesterday’s visibility is the most important thing,” Yankey said.

England’s victory will also have a positive impact on boys, she added: “It also educates our boys that girls can have the same dreams as boys and do the same jobs. It gives our children the power to believe in who they want to be.”

Many fans noticed on social media that the powerful image of striker Chloe Kelly twirling her jersey above her head after scoring Sunday’s winning goal was a one empowering Moment reminiscent of Brandi Chastain’s celebration after winning the World Cup for the United States in 1999.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/england-women-win-euro-2022-hope-inspire-soccer-change-rcna40891 England’s ‘lionesses’ inspire with victories for a country where many girls can’t play football

Fry Electronics Team

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