Empowered England can ‘strive to new levels’ after Euro glory, Anita Asante predicts



“That allows the team to feel they can strive to new levels. There are a lot of young players in this team, they have many years ahead of them and so many tournaments to come it can motivate them further to establish real dominance at international level.

“It shifts the narrative. We sing ‘all the years of hurt’ and that has been intrinsic to our culture of football as a national team, but I do think there is a massive shift now and winning a tournament reinvigorates that belief in what our football teams can do.

“The men got to the (Euro) final last year and that was a wonderful achievement as well but this is fantastic for the women’s game at the moment as they also have the World Cup (next year) so we can build on this excitement.”

The 37-year-old, who is a first-team coach at Women’s Championship club Bristol City, believes the impact of success will be just as great off the field.

“People talk about inspiring the next generation but it is beyond that now,” she added.

“There are boys, girls, men and women of all ages that have got really behind and felt connected to this England side and that is the shift there is now, that value and respect of the women’s game at this level.

“Now it is about transferring this momentum to the WSL this season, making sure the fan experience is good and clubs are proactive in efficiently advertising their games.

“BBC and Sky have committed to showing the games and that is going to go a long way to supporting the long-term legacy of what this tournament has done.”

Over the last 10 years there has been a £50million National Lottery investment in women’s football and during the tournament a further £2m was allocated for a new grassroots girls programme later this summer, with £1m having already been invested in getting more women playing in each of the host cities.

And Asante believes the Lionesses’ victory could also help change policy.

“We have seen a roll back of exercise and PE in schools but kids spend lots of hours at school and it is rare opportunity to give the new generation of girls, in particular, the opportunity to play football,” she said.

“I think there is 40 per cent – maybe more – of girls in school who cannot access football and that has to change.

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“Hopefully this win will inspire that shift so people within the game and who have power within the structure of schools can support it.

“It is about opportunities for everyone and that is part of the inclusive part of the game, we want everyone to be able to get access.”

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