Natasha Chahal


3 July 2019

Forget Steve, Think Steph

This time last summer I knew exactly where my friends would be, each evening showing blind and unwavering affection for football – men’s football. This summer I’ve had to coerce and cajole, offering positive reinforcement to those who bothered to watch games. This is the difference between Russia 2018 and France 2019. It may appear insignificant, but it reflects the difference between the perception of men and women both on and off the pitch. After matches, I’ve spent evenings scrolling social media to relive the excitement and been met with stale comments to the effect that ‘no one cares about women’s football.’ What they mean is they don’t care about women and they don’t care about their strength and their prowess and the way Steph Houghton has become the new poster girl for Steve McQueen-type cool and composure. And they don’t care that generations of girls and women for the first time feel able to be aggressively unapologetic about their talents.