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Summer Diary - You, me, them, everybody, let’s all play together

SO, when England and France was decided on penalties in the Women’s World Cup on Saturday night, what do you think their male counterparts were thinking? 

That’s if they had bothered to watch. More likely, England players were swiping their oily sweaty selves on a sunbed somewhere tacky and thinking about how to con extra wages from Manchester City, while cooing at pictures of themselves oiling their sweaty selves in The Sun. 

And burping loudly. And burning £50 notes. And kicking cats. And weeing in swimming pools. 

That’s what our bloke footballers do. And as they haven’t won us all a cup any time recently but get paid more money than us all put together, they are the worsties, worse than phone-hacking reporters.

I digress, but what do you think they were really thinking after the England women’s team threatened to take a place in the semi-finals of the World Cup, an achievement beyond our so-called world class male team. 

Did they cheer them on? Even though they knew that people would immediately compare the contrasting achievements between the women and the men. Or did they sit wishing they could avoid that red-face scenario by watching one of our women turn a weak penalty around the post and another clatter hers against the crossbar? They sure wished hard. 

It was a shame for a decent England team to fall at that stage, even if the French had played the better on the day. Through the tournament, they have helped show that the women’s game is vastly more watchable than ever before. There is technique and skill unimaginable from when you gave the women’s game a try – once a year when the Beeb showed the cup final – a decade ago. The stadiums have been packed in Germany, some of the goals have been absolute screamers.

Wouldn’t it be great if the game could kick on from here somehow in the UK by cementing a pro-league and building up teams so Arsenal don’t win everything and the best players don’t feel tempted to depart to more lucrative opportunities in the United States. Get it on the box more.

Get girls inspired. We could have football back to the way it was meant to be, without the preening fools that sour the men’s game. But a key step might first be convincing the preening fools in the park to have a think about it too, the buds who don’t want the girls to join the kickabout on Parliament Hill. If the girls are good enough – and let’s face it, most of us dreaming men aren’t any good ourselves – let them play when they ask.

In the US, when you see people playing soccerball in the park, you very often find mixed teams. It’s still a good, rapid game – and, you know what, sometimes Casey gets the better of Chad. We should try it here. 

Published: 14 July, 2011


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