The Lionesses made history on Sunday, winning their first major title, and the Country’s first since 1966.
In front of a record crowd at Wembley Stadium, Captain Leah Williamson lifted the UEFA Women’s European Championship Trophy after England beat Germany 2-1 in extra time.
Norfolk County FA Chief Executive, Matt Carpenter reflected on a fantastic tournament by Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses, as well as the wider impact on Women’s and Girls’ Football.
Firstly, my congratulations go to everybody involved in Sunday’s historic victory.
To the Lionesses who gave everything on the pitch, captivated the Nation with their performances and have inspired us all; to Sarina Wiegman who has managed the team magnificently earning so many well deserved plaudits for her impactful leadership; and to the backroom and support staff who have undoubtedly worked tirelessly behind the scenes, all playing their part in this amazing achievement.
Sunday was the first time in my lifetime that I’ve witnessed a Senior England team lift a major trophy and it was an unforgettable occasion. Massive credit must go to the players who have been incredible ambassadors on and off the pitch and have captured the hearts of everybody across the country.
This feels like a huge moment in time for the female game, and not only for those in the current set up, but also for all who have played a part in helping Women's and Girls' football get to where it is now, and everyone that will play a part in the future.
Whether it’s my dedicated colleagues here at Norfolk FA, who have together given thousands of hours to female football; or witnessing the huge impact of volunteers throughout the grassroots game across the County, I know how hard people have worked over the years to support the development of Women’s and Girls’ football. It’s why, through the vision and investment of The FA and the tireless work of people up and down the country, that this victory feels like a win for so many people.
However, there is still so much more to do and it is hugely important that all of football now pulls together to maximise this opportunity.
Thousands of women and girls of all ages will have been inspired by the achievement of the Lionesses in being crowned European Champions. We need to make sure that this unique moment in time serves as a springboard to push the female game to even higher levels, both in terms of achievements at the higher echelons but also at the grassroots level, ensuring that every girl who wants to get involved in football can do so.
The journey of the Lionesses has been made even better for me, by the fact that in Lauren Hemp we have a player from Norfolk that was an integral part of the team. After seeing her ‘light up’ our very own Football Development Centre a few years ago, it was a privilege to watch Lauren play on our Country’s biggest stage.
Through working with the various FA participation programmes available across Norfolk, the Community Sport Foundation Development Centres, the Women’s teams we have competing at a regional level, and a professional club in Norwich City FC who are now investing in their women’s senior team; we hope we can help support a pathway enabling the next generation of Hemps to progress to the top.
Lauren has served as an inspiration for so many people in our County, and its now our responsibility to ensure that every girl who looks up to her has a platform to express themselves through playing the game we all love.
Congratulations Lauren, and congratulations once again to the Lionesses.
England, European Champions - has a great ring to it doesn’t it!?