On Sunday, I woke up to the fantastic realisation that the FA Community Shield was about to be played. I settled in to see last season’s top teams in England do battle, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something else was ahead. I checked my phone and, low and behold, the Women’s Euro 2017 Final was up next. I can honestly say that I enjoyed the later game quite a bit more out of the two.
For the Dutch, the importance is evident. A nation whose footballing successes have been massively limited in recent years needed hope. The clubs, both women’s and men’s, struggle to compete financially with those in larger European countries. However, there has recently emerged wave of momentum, conjured through national pride and a love for football, has been provided by the Leeuwinnen: the Dutch women’s national football team.
For the Danish, oh so close. The 15th-ranked side in the world were big underdogs throughout the knockout stage where the exciting squad beat the consensus favourites Germany. Denmark were really the team that made the final so exciting; the ladies’ low-block defence made for some exciting counter-attacking football. My hope is that the performance throughout the tournament will inspire young girls in Denmark to pursue their dreams of becoming a footballer.
The biggest takeaway from this match is the inspiration for future generations. The Final was a superb footballing spectacle in the truest sense. Denmark taking the lead early, through the first Danish naturalised player, before the Netherlands pulled two back with some world class finishes. Denmark found a way to equalise before the half, but the Oranje were too strong. In the end, what was left was a trophy for the just winners and a lifelong memory for both sets of fans.
In a world that seems to have slightly regressed from progressive ideals, it is imperative to support the women’s football movement. I hear a lot of people talk about how they think it’s not as exciting as the men’s game; if that’s your opinion, not a problem. However, what is infuriating is when football fans trash the women’s game for no apparent reason. If you’re not supporting (which I wholeheartedly recommend) then simply stay out of its way.
As the cameras pan through the Dutch crowd, you can see just how diverse it is. Men and women, boys and girls, eagerly watching and cheering with the enthusiasm you’d expect from a men’s match on the same stage. People across the country, across the world for that matter, are realising that women’s football doesn’t quite wane in comparison to its male counterpart when it comes to excitement. Sure, the men are more naturally physically gifted, but it doesn’t take a six-foot frame to know where to pick out a pass or to nutmeg a defender (to the delight of the Dutch crowd).
While the loss by the Danish team in the Women’s Euro 2017 final may be representative of the general (and too complex for this article) decline of football in the Nordic country, the enthusiasm brought about for the game by people across the world shows much promise for the women as a whole. For the Netherlands, much tortured by the sense of not quite being able to break onto the global stage, a European Championship is a great relief and a moment to cherish.
Congratulations to both teams for providing Europe with a fantastic show!