Exclusive – Arsenal and England defender Lotte Wubben-Moy has admitted that at a young age she cared more about playing football than watching it, but the growing visibility of the women’s game is changing the culture whereby it is now the normal to see it in a prominent position.
The WSL is in the first year of a ground-breaking broadcast deal, while every England game is available live on free to air television. Recent major tournaments have also led to a huge spike in interest thanks to clear accessibility, which wasn’t always the case.
“It’s cool that in today’s day and age, we’re able to flick on the TV and watch a women’s football game,” Wubben-Moy tells 90min. “Young girls are able to see women that look like them and are able to see that it’s possible.”
Today’s generation of England players and those that came before them didn’t grow up being able to easily see women’s football. But that has been changing dramatically over the last few years.
“We’re doing what the women that came before us did. But we’re actually on telly this time and people are able to watch us. That’s the piece that was probably missing in terms of helping the game grow 50 years ago,” Wubben-Moy explains.
“We’re excited to see the progress that is happening in the women’s game that is pushing on the game even further to allow young girls to dream and ultimately take our shirts.”
Euro 2022 will take place in England this summer, promising to the biggest Women’s European Championship to date due to a huge availability and demand for tickets. It is on a completely different scale to the last time the finals were held in England 17 years ago.
“I was about six [when Euro 2005 was on] and I think I cared more about playing football back then than watching it,” the 23-year-old continues. “That culture is somewhat changing just because it’s so much more accessible now and it’s becoming a normal to watch women’s football on TV.
“Looking back, I guess my memories aren’t that clear. But the way the England team as a whole have managed to come to tournaments and perform, do their best and continue to inspire a generation, we look at that and want to try and emulate it and continue to push on.”
Having the past as a visible inspiration is a crucial step in the future development of women’s football. A new ‘Where Greatness is Made’ campaign from England and Nationwide will celebrate the lives and careers of former Lionesses captain with commemorative plaques in their home-town communities, as well as serving as a reminder of the important of mutual respect.
“I think it’s important to respect the people that have come before us, the women that have paved the way for us to allow us to be where we are today,” Wubben-Moy says.
“We wouldn’t be here without them, so it’s important that we respect the obstacles that they had to overcome in order to get to where they ended up and ultimately where they’ve pushed the game towards and the progression that they’ve allowed to happen because of them. And that’s where we are today and we’re trying to pick up the baton from them and help push the game even further because you can’t look forward without looking back.”
Now following in the footsteps of those former skippers, Wubben-Moy’s friend and Arsenal colleague Leah Williamson has just been confirmed as England’s new captain for Euro 2022, a proud moment for her and those who support her.
“I’m proud for Leah, not just as a teammate, but as an individual and a friend,” Wubben-Moy says. “I’ve seen her progress through ups and downs. The journey that she has been on has been remarkable and I’m excited to see her lead the team out at the Euros.”
England Football and Nationwide Building Society have launched ‘Where Greatness is Made’ campaign, celebrating the lives and careers of some of the iconic women who have captained England, from Sheila Parker who captained the side in the first official England game in 1972, to Steph Houghton who led the team to third place at the 2015 World Cup.
The captains will be honoured with a commemorative plaque in their hometown community which will serve as a permanent reminder of their inspirational stories and the importance of mutual respect for all on and off the pitch.
Each one will include a QR code that will link through to an interactive map and website.