Media Coverage for Women's Sport
West Bromwich Albion Ladies won 15 out of 28 of their matches last year, while the men’s first team won just 14 of their 38 games.
Despite this, female footballers tend to get paid expenses at most, while some must even pay into their teams to enable them to play.
“Funding is very difficult,” says Dave Lawrence, first team manager for Albion Ladies. “It doesn’t help that women’s football doesn’t get the media coverage it deserves.”
Of course, it’s not just a problem that affects the West Midlands.
Commercial sponsorship in the UK amounted to just 0.5 per cent of the total market for women’s sport between January 2010 and August 2011, compared to 61 per cent for men’s over the same period, according to a report by the Commission on the Future of Women’s Sport.
Liverpool Ladies is one of the only teams in the FA Women’s Super League in full-time training, thanks to investment from Liverpool FC. The club brought the women’s team in-house and now give them training sessions with the men’s first team and manager Brendan Rodgers.
However, for many female footballers lack of financial support means they are left to juggle part-time training with work or study.
Still, the Football Association have stated that women and girls’ football is the fastest growing sport in the country, with FA Girls’ Centres of Excellence springing up around the UK – including one in West Bromwich – in a bid to develop new talent.
It’s a step in the right direction for Mr Lawrence. “More commercial sponsors and better facilities are definitely key to development,” he says.
“We need to develop the sport and approach it better from a grassroots level, recognising that women learn in different ways to men.”
Another big stumbling block in getting more women into professional football, claims Wolves Women chair Jenny Wilkes, is a lack of awareness around the sport.
“Women’s football needs more mainstream media coverage,” she says.
“People who wouldn’t necessarily think about going to a women’s match may consider it if they knew more about it.”
It is perhaps telling that in the UK female sport accounts for just five per cent of all sports media coverage according to the annual study by the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation.
In Sweden, however, women’s sports are given as much TV airtime as men’s – sometimes with higher ratings.
However, things are improving. The BBC recently aired the Women’s FA Cup final and are set to show previews of England’s Women’s World Cup qualifiers and the Women’s European Championships later this year.
Mrs Wilkes thinks that women’s football will get there with more local help “we have a good structure in place with women and girls trials getting good numbers, things are on the up with a bit more support from the community”.
This article was sourced from the Express and Star.