The success of the Lionesses has inspired many girls around the UK, but the journey to mainstream recognition for women’s football has been a long one.
The Guardian’s football writer Suzanne Wrack tells Hannah Moore about the tumultuous history of women’s football in the UK, from the 50-year FA ban to the trolling aimed at those who promote it. She explains how recent developments in the professionalisation of the game and an increase in media coverage has drawn more people to the sport.
Shahad, 18, attended the England v Spain quarter final match in Brighton. “It’s in my country, it’s happening right in front of me, it’s probably like the best moment in my life to be honest,” she tells Moore.
She is supported by the organisation Football Beyond Borders, which aims to inspire young people who struggle at school but have a passion for football. She argues that much more needs to be done to make the game more accessible to girls like her.
“I can’t say I know a Muslim woman footballer, who does or doesn’t wear the headscarf, and not having a role model was a proper challenge for me because it made me accept what other people were saying about me not being able to become it,” she says. “I was like they are right, there’s no one like me playing football, so how would I go about it? I have no one to look up to.”