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Football is all about making dreams come true, but even the most ambitious and imaginative young players need some initial inspiration. Before they can imagine being part of a trophy-winning team or dream of scoring more, aspiring lionesses need role models to bond with.
This is one of the many reasons why diversity is so important and why questioning England’s whites is justified. This should not be seen as a criticism of Salina Wigman’s very good team or manager, but rather a recognition that visibility is important.
Young girls don’t see anyone who seems to lack a heroine to emulate — that’s important.
Like England, France are in the quarter-finals of Euro 2022, but unlike the Lionesses, their 23-man squad consists of 15 black or brown players. By contrast, the Lionesses have only three black players: Jess Carter, Nikita Paris and Demi Stokes, and only Carter has game time so far.
There’s clearly a problem – but it’s not about Wiegman’s Euro 2022 team arch, it’s about the player’s path into the England squad. The Girl Scout system in the UK lacks adequate local institutions, the necessary resources and the necessary imagination to find the right place. Why doesn’t the chief scout ask an organisation like the Football Beyond Borders charity to help them identify talented young players from non-traditional backgrounds?
Demographics also played a role. Some areas—such as the Northeast—are much whiter than others. Still, scouts don’t appear to be spotting promising young black players in more diverse areas. Didn’t you find the right place? Do they attract laziness or groupthink to find similarities? Or is it partly about the founding of WSL in 2010?
When I first started playing, women’s football was an amateur, London women’s football Arsenal, Chelsea, Charlton and Fulham played completely differently.